PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s only daughter, Bona, 24, wed in a lavish ceremony Saturday at the family’s private home in Harare’s plush Borrowdale neighborhood with three sitting heads of state from the region among the guests.
Thousands of people attended the no-expense-spared family event broadcast live by the ZBC-TV but from which media organisations not owned by the State were banned.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma attended the event along with top-Mugabe ally, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, Zambia’s Michael Sata and other former leaders from the region.
However, little is known about Bona’s 37 year-old husband, Simba Chikore, apart from reports that he is a pilot for Qatar Airways.
Born in 1977, his mother Christine, is a member of the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa church (ZAOGA), attended by Grace Mugabe before she married the Zimbabwean leader who is a Catholic.
Last year Chikore paid $35,000 and 15 cows to President Mugabe for the hand of his daughter in marriage. The traditional marriage ceremony was held at Mugabe’s rural Zvimba home.
South Africa’s Independent Newspapers group reported Sunday that both Emirates and Qatar airlines denied Chikore worked for them, but Zimbabweans based in Qatar insisted that he works for Qatar Airways.
“Chikore actually works for Qatar Airways and we attended a party along with his work colleagues here ahead of the wedding. Most of his friends from work flew out to Harare for the wedding on Thursday,” said a Zimbabwean based in Doha.
The lavish wedding, said to have cost about $5 million, has been criticised by many, especially as it followed President Mugabe’s $1 million 90th birthday party.
The lavish spending comes at a time the country has been appealing to the UK for funds to ensure some 250,000 underprivileged children are not thrown out of school for failing to pay fees.
Zimbabwe has also appealed to the international community for about $20 million to deal with the flood emergency at the Tokwe Mukosi dam.
A junior officer with the central intelligence organisation (CIO) also said Simba Chikore was a playboy ill-suited to be Bona’s husband.
The officer said Grace Mugabe’s determination for the marriage to go ahead and her disdain for the country’s spy agency had prevented proper vetting of the First Son-in-Law.
“Simba Chikore aka Mutsahuni – 37 years old is the son of a Zaoga leader. He attended school at St Johns High and finished in 1996 as a head boy. He later went for flight school in Chicago Ilinois where he stayed briefly. He later returned to Zimbabwe and worked for Air Zim where he left in 2010,” the CIO officer said Sunday.
Workout addict and avid biker … Simba Chikore
“He is a workout addict and also much into bike riding. He is known for womanising from his high school days and recently involved in a spate of affairs which were glossed over by the team that prepared the final report.
“This man was deemed too old for the first daughter and too tainted to be involved with her. We managed to do surveillance on some of the women involved including some foreign white girls.
“Most of the info that we harvested reflected a man who is not fit to be the First Son-in-Law but as fate would have it, the information was heavily massaged to fit the criteria that would please H.E.”
An effusive, Grace Mugabe, claimed last year that her daughter had married a virgin in remarks that raised eyebrows around the country.
“She has listened to me and I spoke to Simba and I told him that I want my daughter to get married when she is still a virgin and he respects that,” said the First Lady.
The claim was dismissed as ridiculous by the CIO officer who said Simba and Bona travelled together abroad on several occasions and shared hotel rooms.
He added: “We as junior officers are grieved by the amount being used for this private affair. Guests including Koffi Olomide are staying at the Meikles (hotel) where security is high.
What pains us is that the wedding is being done at a cost of $5million when the country is failing to pay for school fees for all graduates under the Presidential scholarship and failing to do the same for disadvantaged kids in the country.”