Mrs Chombo's appeal for help in divorce draws blank from Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe has avoided getting himself involved in the acrimonious divorce wrangle between Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and his wife Marian.

This is despite pleas from the minister’s spouse for Mugabe to intervene to help her to get a fair share of the vast family estate, which includes businesses, farms, houses and cars.

Mariam Chombo, nee Mhloyi, wrote a letter to Mugabe on September 20 last year pleading for help to get some of the properties the couple bought before they became estranged.

Marian had told Mugabe that she was having serious marital problems with Chombo, who has four other wives, Nanette Silukhuni, Angela Rugara, Bessie Mugabe and Chipo Jandya. It is not clear whether Bessie Mugabe is related to President Mugabe.

Marian pleaded with Mugabe to mediate as ”a father” and ”leader". She wanted Mugabe to assist her ”to get out of these miseries" and secure part of the huge family estate, which includes at least 20 houses, 80 residential and commercial stands, 16 top-of-the-range cars, 12 lorries, tractors, several farms and farm equipment, hunting safaris and lodges, a number of businesses, a mine, shares in different companies and 12 investment vehicles.

”I write to you this letter seeking your help as a father. I’m Minister Chombo’s wife. We got married in the United States of America some time back when we were students, and we had two sons, Nimrod and Ignatius Junior," Marian said.

”But all hell broke loose a few years ago when my husband married another woman, Mrs Angela Rugara. While having problems he went on to marry Nanette Silukhuni and then Mrs Bessie Mugabe whom he is living with now. There is also Chipo Jandya."

Realising Mugabe was taking long to reply to her letter, Marian wrote another letter to him on September 27 last year.

Relatives of the Chombos told the Sunday Times on Friday that the case was had proceeded in the courts on Wednesday because Mugabe had avoided getting himself involved to settle the matter.

"The president did not reply to her letters and it became clear to us he wanted to avoid being involved. We even tried to send messages through his close advisors and family members but he didn’t get back to us," a close relative of the Chombo family said.

Relatives say Marian fears that if Mugabe does not help out she could walk out with nothing because: ”Chombo is hiding some of the properties in shelf companies and under other people’s names. We really wanted the president to help; he’s trying to avoid sharing the properties fairly and he is playing all sorts of dirty tricks to hide houses, cars and other properties," a relative said.

Chombo has, however, denied the allegations. As a result the case went on before Judge President Justice George Chiweshe on Wednesday and was referred to trial after efforts to resolve the contentious case failed.

The court will, during trial, seek to find a formula to share the matrimonial properties between the two. No date for trial has yet been set.

The couple married customarily in July 1985 while they lived in the USA, before further committing to each other out of community of property in terms of the Marriage Act in July 1993 after returning home.

They subsequently signed a new contract allowing each party 50% of the estate. In his court papers, Chombo hit back, saying his wife "enjoys going to court in the press" and has been pestering him via ”threatening and rubbish text messages”.-Sunday Times