Zimbabwe vice president Constantino Chiwenga’s estranged wife, Marry Mubaiwa, gained custody of the couple’s three children on Friday last week, as part of an initially agreed out-of-court settlement, which was, however, aborted after the former army chief made a dramatic volte-face on Monday.
Family sources said there were negotiations between the Chiwenga and Mubaiwa families for an out-of-court settlement of their nasty divorce case in which the two are washing dirty linen in public, accusing each other of violence, drug abuse and witchcraft.The custody of the three minor children is one of the issues at the centre of the raging divorce case.
Chiwenga last week claimed he took the children out of the country on holiday in 2019 after he found them highly traumatised by what he described as his wife’s witchcraft practices.
According to insiders, the two families held negotiations throughout the day on Friday via an emissary only identified as Mupostori Shumba, who is said to have been asked to mediate by Chiwenga’s friends, among them, tycoon Kuda Tagwirei, who do not want their names tarnished in court.
Tagwirei has already been sucked into the matter after Marry indicated that one of the cars they are wrangling over, a top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz S600 sedan, was bought by the fuel mogul.
Mupostori Shumba, sources said, was chosen as the mediator because he is also well-known to the Mubaiwas.
The source said Mupostori Shumba spent the better part of last Friday shuttling between Chiwenga’s secretive Borrowdale house, where he has been staying since his return from a complex medical procedure in China in November last year, and the Mubaiwas.
“He (the madiator) first went to Chiwenga’s new residence before he met Marry and her family at a house in Newlands. All negotiations were conducted through him. He practically spent the whole day moving up and down,” a source said.
“As of Friday night, there was an agreement for an out-of-court settlement and, as part of that, Chiwenga had agreed to let Marry have custody of the children which is now the case.
Basically, Marry wanted the general to first withdraw the criminal charges levelled against her and to agree on a property-sharing plan,” the source said.
“The impression we got from Mupostori Shumba was that Chiwenga was amenable to that arrangement as well. Marry actually said that it was not originally in her plans to divorce and say all the nasty things in public but she felt that since he had started it all, she had to respond in kind.
So at the end of the day everyone thought progress had been made, only for us to get the shock of our lives when his lawyer on Monday told newspapers that Chiwenga was itching for a showdown with her in court,” the source added.
“There are suspicions that may have been influenced by some of his friends between Friday night and Monday to have a change of heart, from the look of things, which is very unfortunate considering the plight of the children in the whole drama.”
The source further said the warring parties had even agreed to allow their lawyers to work on a deed of settlement and finalise it in seven days.
“The negotiations ended with an agreement to allow lawyers from both parties to work on a deed of settlement which was supposed to be deliberated on by both parties over the weekend, but everything now appears to be in jeopardy,” the source said.
Last week, Marry, who was in the company of her lawyer Advocate Taona Nyamakura, appeared before High Court judge Justice Christopher Dube-Banda but the matter was not deliberated on after the parties agreed to attempt to settle the matter out of court.
Marry is claiming an equivalent of US$40 000 per month as maintenance for her upkeep and a total of US$7 500 per month for her three children, which money she said should be paid at the interbank rate.
Besides the claim of monthly maintenance, Marry also said her husband should be ordered to pay for the family’s holidays, school and medical expenses and casual clothes, all running into thousands of United States dollars.