Chombo Gags Media Over Fresh Divorce Wrangle

By Prince Tongogara and Professor Matodzi Harare, January 27, 2014 – Zanu PF Politburo member and Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo has gagged the media from reporting on his acrimonious divorce wrangle from his estranged wife Marian at the High Court. Chombo and Marian agreed terms of divorce in an out of the court settlement last year after their divorce case attracted widespread media attention. But the couple is back in the court quarrelling over ownership of productive Allan Grange Farm in Raffingora in Mashonaland West Province. Chombo wants the High Court to issue an order entitling him to sole control of the farm since he has a 99-year lease with the government but Marian is insisting on joint ownership of Allan Grange Farm. “”Plaintiff will further testify to the effect that joint holdership of the rights and interests in the farm is not practically possible, would create a tragedy in waiting and is at any rate not in the interests of the clean break which the parties obviously require,” reads part of Chombo’s supplementary summary of evidence which was filed recently in the High Court by his lawyers. Chombo charges that awarding the farm to Marian would be inequitable and outrightly iniquitious. The couple also squared off in the July 31 polls when they both sought to represent President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party in the Zvimba North constituency. However, Marian was pushed out of the elections and the party subsequently and had to contest Chombo as an independent before finally losing the battle to the Zanu PF politburo member. The matter resumed Monday at the High Court before Justice David Mangota but immediately Chombo’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu told journalists that they have to respect the gag order issued by Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza on the matter. “Let me remind you that you cannot report on the divorce proceedings of this matter in line with Justice Gwaunza order,” Mpofu said. Marian is being represented by feisty human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa. The order makes sure that Chombo and his estranged wife will have their divorce concluded away from the public glare. Chombo’s media gag follows that obtained by army boss General Constantine Chiwenga who interdicted the media from reporting on his ongoing divorce case which has now spilled into the Supreme Court. Before the media injunction was issued, members of the public had a glimpse of Chombo’s wealth which included nearly a hundred residential stands spread across the country, flats in Harare and houses in the plush Borrowdale and Avondale suburbs of Harare. The couple also had to agree on the sharing of a fleet of luxury vehicles, farm implements and household furniture with a combined value running in several millions. The media injunction seems to be following President Robert Mugabe’s public call to his senior Zanu PF members to conduct their divorce matters in private during the December party conference. The divorce cases had the potential of exposing the level of corruption within Zanu PF ministers who have amassed wealth in a short space of time after getting into public office. Most of them were relatively poor and had no business interests worth speaking of before they were appointed cabinet ministers. The Chombo case joins the list of other senior ministers in Mugabe’s cabinet, his Zanu PF party and other associates who are also divorcing with most of the cases being done outside the public spotlight. These include Francis Nhema divorce with late vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s daughter Louise, Simon Khaya-Moyo and his wife of over 30 years Getrude, army boss Chiwenga who separated from his aggressive wife Jocelyn, Sylvester Nguni and Bright Matonga, whose relationship with Anne turned sour.