The family of Zimbabwe's founding President, the late Cde Robert Mugabe, has failed to locate an inheritance will for the distribution of the national hero's estate, a development that has prompted the Master of High Court to call for an edict meeting this week to appoint an executor.
Cde Mugabe died in Singapore on September 6 this year after battling prostate cancer for at least 13 years.
His daughter, Mrs Bona Nyepudzai Mutsahuni-Chikore, notified the Master's Office on October 21 and disclosed that her father had US$10 million in a CBZ Bank nostro account and a number of immovable and movable properties.
The properties declared by Mrs Mutsahuni-Chikore are:
- House Number 129 Forbes Road, Waterfalls
- Villa Number 65, Gunhill
- Number 27 Quorn Avenue, Mt Pleasant
- Lot GB Helensvale and Lot 1 of subdivision B of Sub G of Helensvale
- Highfield Farm
- Zvimba rural farming plot (about 5 acres)
- Zvimba rural home (one hectare)
- Zvimba orchard (about five acres)
- 10 cars
Mrs Grace Mugabe was listed as the sole surviving spouse while Bona, Robert, Bellarmine and Russel Goreraza were listed as Cde Mugabe's surviving children.
The Mugabe family lawyer Mr Terrence Hussein of Hussein Ranchod & Company wrote to the Master of High Court Mr Eldard Mutasa asking him to register the death of Cde Mugabe.
Mr Hussein indicated that no will had been found and messages had already been sent to other law firms in town to establish if the late former President had not left a will.
"Kindly register the estate. Thus far, we have not been able to locate a will, but have sent out enquiries to other law firms, although the family members are not aware of any.
"In this regard, perhaps the estate may be treated as intestate for now," reads the letter.
To that end, the Master's Office has invited the Mugabe family members and their lawyers to an edict meeting on Thursday to discuss the appointment of an executor.
Legal experts said the initial inventory by the informant at the registration of the estate can be amended at any stage in the event that the informant would have either deliberately or mistakenly left out some assets relevant to the estate.
Mr Wellington Pasipanodya of Manase & Manase Legal Practitioners said deliberately leaving out some assets in the inventory was criminal.
"If the assets are left out intentionally, that is fraud and it is imperative upon any of the beneficiaries to bring that information to the attention of the Master.
"The fraudster will be liable for criminal prosecution. Further, in terms of Section 13 of the Administration of Estates Act, the culprit will forfeit all benefits arising from the omitted assets," said Mr Pasipanodya.
Another expert, Mr Caleb Mucheche of Caleb Mucheche & Partners Law Chambers, explained the procedure that is followed when handling an estate that does not have a will.
"The Master of High Court convenes an edict meeting for the relatives of the deceased to appoint an executor.
"If they fail to agree on an executor of their own, the Master will choose a neutral professional executor from a list kept at his office," he said.
Mr Mucheche said siblings of the deceased or any other members of the extended family have no legal right to claim a share of the estate in the absence of a will including them as beneficiaries.
"An estate of a person who dies without a will is distributed to beneficiaries made up of his or her children and surviving spouse, under a monogamous civil marriage or surviving spouses if he was in a polygamous marriage under customary law.
"Brothers or sisters are not legally entitled to inherit if a person dies without a valid written will," said Mr Mucheche.
He added: "Brothers and sisters can only inherit under a third tier if a person dies without a wife or children (primary beneficiaries) and his or her father or mother (secondary beneficiaries) are also late."