Fungai Lupande Senior Court Reporter
Former Clerk of Parliament Mr Austin Zvoma and his estranged wife Maria (nee Jeche), are embroiled in a property wrangle that is playing out in the High Court with a Government farm and a house at the centre of the divorce procedings.
The two were married in terms of the Customary Act (Chapter 5:07) on April 3, 1978 and Zvoma married another woman on December 17, 2006 under the Marriages Act (Chapter 5:11).
Maria approached the High Court claiming an order for a divorce decree and ancillary relief saying, “the marriage has irretrievably broken down and there are no prospects of restoration”.
In the court papers, Maria said: “Parties jointly own a house in Glen Lorne measuring 4 257 square metres, a certain immovable property in Gletywn, Chishawasha Hills and a farm in Merwede, Harare.
“When the Glen Lorne property was acquired in 1987 the plaintiff contributed since she was employed. It is equitable that she be awarded 100 percent shares of the Glen Lorne and Chishawasha Hills houses and the farm.
“I insist that Zvoma left the matrimonial home in 1993 and has not done anything towards the maintenance or upkeep of the matrimonial home in Glen Lorne, but instead had used the house as collateral for his personal loans.
“Since 2000 the defendant was taking loans using the Glen Lorne house as collateral and the house is now encumbered by the loans.” Zvoma denied that he abandoned the matrimonial home, but said he left by mutual agreement to avoid mutual stress, arguments and to create a good environment for their three minor children.
“Both parties lost all love and affection for each other. The farm in question belongs to Government allocated under the Land Reform Programme. The defendant neither owns nor leases the property and it is not available for allocation and distribution upon divorce,” said Zvoma in his defendant plea.
“The defendant got married to his current wife on December 17, 2006 under the Marriages Act (Chapter 5:11). Accordingly plaintiff has no legal claim or entitlement to any property acquired or allocated to defendant after December 17, 2006.
“It is equitable that the defendant be awarded 60 percent of the Glen Lorne house with the balance of the value being awarded to plaintiff.”
Maria insisted that the farm is on long-term lease to Zvoma by the Government and it is subject to distribution by the court.
“The defendant is getting value from using the farm and that value should be considered in the distribution of matrimonial property. The marriage between the defendant and the said current wife is null and void as it was entered without following due process in terms of the law, the marriage between the plaintiff and defendant still subsists,” she said.