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Minister Chombo loses bid to evict ex-wife from farm

By Daniel Nemukuyu

Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo has lost his bid to elbow out his ex-wife Ms Marian Mhloyi from Allan Grange Farm in Raffingora before her appeal on their divorce settlement after the High Court found no merit in his application.

Ignatius Chombo and ex-wife Marian Mhloyi
Ignatius Chombo and ex-wife Marian Mhloyi

Minister Chombo, who successfully divorced his wife in 2012 through a consent order, was now seeking the eviction of Ms Mhloyi from the farm before the hearing of her appeal over whether the farm should be split or retained by the minister alone.

The minister’s application was based on a contested judgment by High Court judge Justice David Mangota that declared that the farm, allocated to Minister Chombo under the land reform programme, should not be part of the matrimonial assets to be shared in a divorce.

Justice Mangota’s judgment technically had an effect of excluding Ms Mhloyi from the possession and control of the farm despite her argument that she was a co-lessee. Ms Mhloyi’s lawyers, Mtetwa and Nyambirai appealed to the Supreme Court against Justice Mangota’s judgment on the farm.

While the appeal was pending, Minister Chombo, separately sought the enforcement of Justice Mangota’s judgment arguing that the appeal had gone for two years without being heard.

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However, Justice Lavender Makoni last week threw out Minister Chombo’s application saying the ex-wife was not responsible for the delay in the hearing of the appeal. The judge ruled that the delay was occasioned by the disappearance of the divorce file, which was in the hands of court officials.

“What is clear from the above is that the delay in the prosecution of the appeal is not and cannot be attributed to either party. The record or pleadings went missing in the hands of court officials. This is what has stalled progress in the matter.

“By granting an order for execution pending appeal on the basis of delay, the court will be punishing the respondent for a delay which has been occasioned through no fault on her part. If this were to be allowed, surely justice will turn on its head,” ruled Justice Makoni.

The judge also found that the pending Supreme Court appeal by Ms Mhloyi had high prospects of success and that the order sought by the minister could not be granted.

“From the above, it is clear that the appeal filed by the respondent is not frivolous or vexatious but rather enjoys high prospects of success. The applicant has therefore failed to discharge the onus on him that he is entitled to the relief that he seeks.

She then dismissed the application and awarded costs to Ms Mhloyi. Justice Makoni ruled that the minister’s relief could not be granted because he was seeking to contradict an order the he had earlier consented to.

Minister Chombo obtained a decree of divorce in 2012 and all the property was shared except for the farm, which Ms Mhloyi insisted should be split to accommodate both parties.

Justice Mangota recently ruled that Ms Mhloyi should vacate the Raffingora farm and which was Government property and that Minister Chombo was the legitimate lessee who is entitled to using it. The Herald