26 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Chombo, Wife Divorce Wrangle Continues

LOCAL government minister, Ignatious Chombo is set to square off in court again with ex-wife, Marian Chombo over the ownership of Allan Grange Farm in Raffingora which the two currently share.

As the messy divorce threatens to explode again, the issue is now set for trialagain, the issue is now set for trial after Chombo applied to the High Court seeking to eject his ex-wife from the farm.

Ownership of the farm was not concluded when the two parties agreed on a divorce settlement in August 2012.

Chombo's lawyer, Wilson Manase last Thursday confirmed the case would go to court at a date to be announced, but refused to divulge details.

But in papers filed with the High Court, Chombo said he would testify to the effect that joint holdership of the rights and interests on the farm was not practically possible.

"[It] would create a tragedy in waiting and is at any rate not in the interests of the clean break which the parties obviously require," he said.

Chombo will testify that he has a 99-year lease with government and that in order for parity and equity to be achieved, rights and interests on the farm must be exclusively awarded to him.

"Plaintiff [Chombo] will draw attention to the factor which irresistibly points to the conclusion that the award of the farm to defendant would be inequitable and outrightly iniquitous," read the High Court papers.

In an earlier letter to the High Court registrar, Manase said in terms of Clause 8 of the divorce order, Marian was entitled to remain in occupation of part of Allan Grange Farm for a period of nine months and was to investigate such alternatives as may be available to her.

"In terms of clause 8.2, if the parties have not settled their differences in relation to the farm, then at the expiry of the said nine months, either party shall be entitled to apply to the Registrar for this matter to be tried," he said.

"The period of nine months elapsed in May 2013. We believe that she [Marian] is now relaxed and reluctant to move out of the plaintiff's farm."

Chombo will not call witnesses in aid of his case but he will make reference to the divorce order which the Zanu PF politburo member argues, leans heavily in favour of Marian.

However, it is understood that Marian's continued stay on the farm is on the basis of an agreement settled before the courts.

Sources said Marian, by law, as espoused in the court order, would remain on the farm as she was the "primary farmer" and was entitled to her due rights.

The sources said it was surprising that there was continued hullabaloo over the matter yet it was already settled, even with due regard to gender equity in the divorce matter.

The Chombos divorced by consent in September 2012 after nearly four years of haggling over the distribution of the minister's vast empire.

But Marian last year complained that Chombo had not honoured his obligations in accordance with the settlement and was refusing her access to farm equipment, including tractors, trailers, dam water and slasher.

Marian's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa had to write to Chombo's lawyer, seeking to know why the minister was not complying with the provisions of the court order.

The Chombos married under the Marriages Act Chapter 5:11 in Harare on May 21 1993.

Under the divorce settlement, Marian among other things, got six trucks, three trailers, an AVM bus, and Toyota landcruiser, Mercedes Benz, Twin Cab Hardbody and Nissan Wolf.

She also got the Greendale home, four flats in Queensdale, two flats along Mutare Road, two Shawasha Hills stands, a Glen View 7 house and a Ruwa plot.

Chombo on the other hand retained a stand in Norton, four flats in Queensdale, two flats in Rhodesville, Mica Point stand in Kariba and all implements at Allan Grange farm.

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