"Cde Minister" Chombo and wife in bitter, messy divorce
HARARE – Robert Mugabe's corky Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo is embroiled in an acrimonious property-sharing wrangle with his wife, Marian, from whom he has been separated for the past three years.
The protracted divorce and property sharing dispute is now before the High Court.
The estranged couple agreed to divorce, but failed to reach a settlement on the sharing of vast properties spread countrywide despite several pre-trial conferences held to try to resolve the matter without going to trial.
On Wednesday, Judge President Justice George Chiweshe referred the contentious issues to trial after another attempt to resolve the matter hit a brick wall.
During the civil trial, the court will seek to come up with a formula on how to share the matrimonial property.
The court will hear evidence regarding contributions made by each of the parties in acquiring the properties.
The court will look at money invested as well as generation of ideas.
The hearing date is yet to be set.
Mr Wilson Manase of Manase and Manase is acting for Minister Chombo while Mr Motsi Sinyoro of Sinyoro and Partners is representing Mrs Marian Chombo (nee Muhloyi).
The two separated in 2007 and Minister Chombo wants a divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.
"The marriage between the two parties is irretrievably broken down to an extent that the two are not reconcilable and no prospects for . . . restoration of a normal marriage relationship," stated the minister in his declaration filed with the court.
He says the two have not lived together as husband and wife for at least 24 months and there is no more love or affection.
Minister Chombo has pledged to look after their two children, born in 1986 and 1989.
"He will take care of his two children’s educational requi-rements, including air fares once a year to and from school, tuition and ancillary expenses," he said.
Minister Chombo says during the subsistence of the marriage they acquired property like furniture, utensils and electronic equipment.
He wants the couple’s two houses in Alexandra Park and Greendale awarded to his wife.
The minister also proposes that all movable property at their Allan Grange Farm go to Mrs Chombo on condition that farming equipment which is not on loan or not yet fully-paid for is valuated and shared.
He also wants to be granted the first offer to buy the equipment.
Minister Chombo, however, is not agreeable to paying his estranged wife the US$2 000 monthly maintenance she is claiming, arguing that she can earn a living from the properties and businesses he wants to cede to her.
Mrs Chombo, in her summary of evidence, claims she was customarily married to the minister in the United States in 1985.
In 1993 she said they renewed their vows and remarried under the Marriages Act (Chapter 5:11).
"Defendant (Mrs Chombo) will testify that the relationship became strained when plaintiff (Minister Chombo) left matrimonial home saying that he wanted to sort out some personal issues and promised to come back home," Mrs Chombo says.
She says since then the marriage has been strained but there are prospects for restoration of normal marriage.
Given a chance to reflect on the matter without undue influence, Mrs Chombo feels the marriage can be successfully resuscitated.
On the matrimonial assets, Mrs Chombo says she signed a post-nuptial agreement stating that they will share 50 percent of all properties acquired — whether held personally or in proxy — during the subsistence of their marriage.
She averred that on top of fixed assets including a borehole, generator, coldroom, it will be just for Minister Chombo to pay a monthly maintenance of US$2 000 until her death or re-marriage.
She also wants the court to award her 15 of the family vehicles that include:
4 Toyota Land Cruisers
3 Mercedes Benzes
2 Nissan Wolfs,
1 Toyota Vigo,
1 Mazda BT-50,
1 Nissan Hardbody
1 Toyota Hilux
Mrs Chombo is also claiming other properties that include:
2 Glen View houses
2 flats in Queensdale,
A property in Katanga Township,
Stand Number 1037 Mount Pleasant Heights
4 Norton business stands
3 Chinhoyi business stands,
4 Banket business stands,
1 commercial stand in Epworth,
2 residential stands in Chirundu
4 commercial stands in Kariba
1 stand in Ruwa
1 stand in Chinhoyi,
2 stands in Mutare
2 stands in Binga.
4 stands in Victoria Falls
1 stand in Zvimba Rural
Chitungwiza (two residential and two commercial stands)
Beitbridge (four stands),
20 stands in Crow Hill, Borrowdale
10 stands in Glen Lorne,
2 flats at Eastview Gardens (B319 and B320)
1 flat at San Sebastian Flats in the Avenues, Harare
Number 79 West Road, Avondale.
Number 36 Cleveland Road, Milton Park
Number 135 Port Road, Norton,
2 Bulawayo houses.
Number 18 Cuba Rd, Mount Pleasant
Number 45 Basset Crescent, Alexandra Park,
2 Chegutu houses
1 Glen Lorne house (Harare)
2 houses (Victoria Falls).
Stand along Simon Mazorodze Road,
Norton (one stand)
Avondale (two stands)
365 Beverly House (one stand)
Bulawayo (three stands),
Mica Point Kariba (one stand).
She further wants the court to share farming equipment at New Allan Grange Farm including three tractors, two new combine harvesters, two boom sprayers and two engines.
She is also seeking an order compelling Minister Chombo to cede to her shares in the family’s 10 companies including Dickest, Hamdinger, Landberry and Track in Security Company.
Mrs Chombo, in her court papers, is also claiming cattle at Darton Farm, shared chicken runs, pigsties, a shop, grinding mill, house, mills, tractors, lorries, six trucks, five of which are non-runners, four trailers (three non-runners) and one truck.
She added that other interests were the Mvurwi Mine, hunting safari lodges in Chiredzi, Hwange, Magunje and Chirundu as well as properties in South Africa.