A Harare court yesterday halved to $400 the monthly maintenance fees paid by Orchestra Dendera Kings leader Sulumani Chimbetu towards the upkeep of two minors he sired with Marygold Mutemasango.
Through his lawyer Mr Arshiel Mugiya of Mugiya and Macharaga Law Chambers, Chimbetu successfully applied for the reduction of his contribution citing economic hardships and changed circumstances.
In his application, Chimbetu said the $800 he was paying was exorbitant and unsustainable, while, on the other hand, Mutemasango was saying her estranged husband had the capacity to pay. After hearing submissions from both parties, magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube concurred with Chimbetu and reduced the amount to $400.
"It is not a secret that the economic situation in Zimbabwe is on a downward spiral, yet the business that the applicant survives on derives directly from the public. Other companies are also struggling and are closing, this shows that the economic situation is bad," he said.
"Even though the applicant did not provide a solid basis as to how much he earns every month, the court will take what he said under oath and accepts that he earns $1 200 a month, therefore considering all the factors, the application for downwards variation is granted."
In his application, Sulu as Chimbetu is affectionately known, submitted that he was failing to make ends meet.
"The reason why I have pointed out my actual earnings is that the respondent seems to labour under an understanding that my income is unlimited and that I am literally swimming in gold. In her mind, when she notices a number of people at the shows, she thinks that whatever is receipted directly finds its way into my pockets without any deductions or expenses involved," he said.
He said people were no longer attending shows in their numbers as they used to in the past and he was now holding less shows owing to economic hardships.
Chimbetu said international shows were now hard to come by, a factor that has eroded their earnings as musicians. Chimbetu also pointed out piracy as a major blow to their earnings. He further added that he does not get income from some of his roles as brand ambassador.
Sulu also submitted that his wife used to help him in paying other bills, but now that she lost her job in August this year, the burden now solely lies on him.