The daughter of the leader of South Africa's ruling party and the son of a prominent Zimbabwean opposition politician will be married today at what has been called the "wedding of the year" by embattled Zimbabweans.
The crème de la crème of Zimbabwean and South African politics and business will attend the wedding in Pretoria of Gugulethu Zuma, the actress daughter of Jacob Zuma – who is most likely to become South African president next year – and the mathematician Wesley Bongani Ncube, son of Welshman Ncube.
A second lavish ceremony is to be held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on 27 December, with Mr Zuma and the mother of the bride, South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in attendance.
The Independent understands that invitations have gone out to more than 200 guests – including top politicians – for the private ceremony at Mrs Dlamini-Zuma's plush Pretoria home.
Mr Ncube Snr said he had not anticipated such media interest in a "wedding between two young children". But there is already much speculation about the likely impact of the union on South Africa's much criticised policy on Zimbabwe.
Mr Ncube Snr led a breakaway faction from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in 2006 after sparring with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai over policy. He then invited Arthur Mutambara, a robotics professor, to lead the faction.
The Mutambara faction, which holds the balance of power in parliament, has come out in support of a defective power-sharing deal for Zimbabwe brokered by former South African president Thabo Mbeki. Mr Tsvangirai opposes the deal, saying it still needs fine-tuning. Mr Ncube Snr is also seen as a close friend of Mr Mbeki, who has privately told colleagues that he wished the professor was the main Zimbabwe opposition leader. Mr Ncube has come under strong criticism in the media, which perceives him as being pro-Mugabe.
Although Mr Zuma has been a strong critic of President Mugabe, fears abound that he might be influenced by his new in-law. Zimbabwean critics of South Africa's policies on Zimbabwe contend that having Mr Ncube Snr connected to the Zuma family is unlikely to lead to greater South African pressure on Mr Mugabe.Reuse content