Mugabe on August 17, 1996, officially married Grace Marufu, his former secretary amid some controversy, at an elaborate Catholic wedding.
“The Press were banned from the Robert Mugabe and Grace Marufu wedding which saw some journalist convicted for speculating about the expectations of the wedding”[vsw id=”xUXuWU1SS-I” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]
Grace already has two young children by Mugabe, allowed under the African custom which permits a man to have more than one wife.
But the church wedding has been criticised by some Catholic leaders, who argue Christian doctrines brand polygamy as adultery.
Mugabe secretly took Grace as a junior wife under customary law. As a Catholic, he could not divorce Sally. Their relationship and wedding details were to stay under wraps and when the story leaked, his Chief of Intelligence was accused of treachery and sent to prison where he mysteriously went blind.
However, when Sally died, Mugabe was in the clear. In 1996, four years after Sally Hayfron’s death, he was able to finally marry Grace Marufu, his South African born mistress, in an extravagant church ceremony.
Flanked by his best man President Joaquim Chissano of neighbouring Mozambique,Mugabe looked relaxed and in good spirits.
But anticipation turned to frustration as the happy couple and their guests were kept waiting in the baking sun, for over an hour by the clergy.
Despite the last minute hitch, the three hour ceremony eventually got underway.
And Mugabe made his feelings towards his bride, Grace Marufu, who is over forty years his junior, official.
She met Zimbabwe’s only black leader since independence from Britain in 1980, when she joined his staff as a secretary in 1986.
Their relationship was a closely guarded secret for many years, but resulted in two children now aged seven and nine.
None of this was made official until earlier this year, although they did marry under African custom late in 1992, one year after the death of the Mugabe‘s first wife Sally Hayfron.
As the newly-wed couple emerged from the church thousands of well wishers waiting outside burst into songs and cheers.
At the reception South African President Nelson Mandela was present, along with leaders from Botswana and Namibia.