HARARE – After a four-year relationship that has spawned rumour in Manicaland, wedding bells are finally tolling for Higher and Tertiary Education minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Pentecostal preacher Bishop Anthony Kashiri.
Kashiri, 61 is believed to have several wives and 46 Children.
The lovebirds, who first met in church, will tie the knot in Mutare “soon”, at a private ceremony that close relatives have described as “low-key” and “typical of Oppah”.
But other sources say the couple is in no hurry to walk down the aisle, even though the 56-year-old minister and key ally of First Lady Grace Mugabe admitted last Thursday that she was now officially married to the down-to-earth preacher.
The press was on hand snapping candid photos of the loving couple, who all along frantically tried to keep their affair under wraps.
On Thursday, Muchinguri announced their nuptials to the public.
Details are still few and far between — the couple has always been unusually private — but what we do know is that the lovebirds were getting all lovey-dovey at Mutare Polytechnic during the Zanu PF provincial co-ordination committee meeting at Headlands Hall.
“This is my husband, and we are happily married,” Muchinguri said, drawing uproarious applause.
“I am now Mai Kashiri. You continue to refer to me as Mai Muchinguri because probably you did not know that I am now married.
“I am now Mai Kashiri,” she beamed.
“We have all along been keeping a low profile as we tried to avoid paparazzi. You know what they do and are capable of.”
The rumour mill went into overdrive when she divorced her first husband, Tapiwa Rushesha, in the 90s.
She told a meeting organised by Women in Politics Support Unit (Wipsu) last January in Harare, that her divorce came through after five years of intense media scrutiny in newspapers.
At that occasion, she also denied ever dating the late music icon Simon ‘Chopper’ Chimbetu and also refuted rumours that she was once involved in a cat fight with Grace over earrings.
She said she wondered where the rumours emanated from.
“People said I dated Chimbetu, but where would I have seen him he was not on my level?” she told young aspiring women politicians at a mentorship programme held in Harare.
Rumour of the alleged relationship between Chimbetu and the minister erupted in the mid-90s when the late dendera musician penned a song in which he extolled the virtues of an imaginary woman by the name “Oppah”.
“She is like an angel sent for me,” Chopper sang.
Meanwhile, media reports in the late 1990s claimed she had a public scuffle with the First Lady at the Harare International Airport over ear-rings allegedly bought for her by President Robert Mugabe. According to the report, Grace had then ordered her off the plane, bound for a foreign trip, the report claimed.
This was all false, according to Muchinguri.
“Some said I fought with the first lady over ear rings. Such stories were not true,” she said.
At independence, she was appointed private secretary to the President between 1980 and 1981.
She was later to become deputy minister twice, first for External Affairs between 1989 and 1993 and of Environment and Tourism between 1993 and 1997.
Her first ministerial post came in 1997 when she was made minister of State in the President’s Office, a post she held until 2000. In 2005, she was appointed minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development.
In the ongoing factional fights in Zanu PF, she is a key member of the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction that has so far successfully waged a mission to prevent Joice Mujuru from succeeding Mugabe.
On Thursday she proudly stated that she is now happily married to the reverend.
Well-wishes for the happy couple have been pouring in on social media, as well as from some of their high-profile Zanu PF friends.
In the past, the former girl guerrilla has been known to act impulsively.
Close family sources said as a mum, she had vowed not to speak about any new romance in her life unless it gets serious.
The politician, who also led the demolition job against Joice Mujuru and her allies, acted in a manner that spoke louder than words last Thursday. She just could not hide her affection for her new husband, who she has reportedly been dating for a couple of years.
She was inseparable from her new beau and affectionately smiling to him.
The new romance is clearly doing wonders for the Zanu PF Politburo member, who looked radiant and glowing in a red fringe dress.Dailynews