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Chiwenga paid US$100 as token of divorcing Mubaiwa “gupuro”

High Court judge Justice Owen Tagu has ruled that the marriage of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Marry Mubaiwa was terminated when the former Army General sent his emissary with US$100 as a token of divorce on November 24, 2019.

The court declared that Chiwenga is now divorced from Mubaiwa after they stayed together for almost eight years.

Chiwenga applied for an order declaring the customary union to have been terminated in November last year.

Justice Tagu ruled that the customary marriage between the two was terminated when Chiwenga sent his emissary, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania, Rtd Major General Anselem Sanyatwe, with US$100 as a token of divorce on November 24, 2019.

Vice-President Constantino Guveya Chiwenga and wife Marry
Vice-President Constantino Guveya Chiwenga and wife Marry in happier times

Despite accepting the demise of their marriage, the judge said Mubaiwa said she had rejected the token, known in Shona culture as ‘gupuro’, because the United States dollar was not the country’s legal tender.

“The application is allowed with costs,” Tagu ruled. “It is declared that by the time proceedings in HC 9837/19 were instituted, the customary union between the parties had ceased to subsist.”

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Justice Tugu further ruled that the ancillary issues relating to custody, maintenance and property rights of the parties “are stood down for determination at trial, which shall be set down by the defendant as and when she is able to prosecute the matter.”

Chiwenga, through his lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri, asked the High Court to leave other matters like division of assets and child custody for when Mubaiwa’s health has improved, and to make a determination on the narrow point of whether their marriage was terminated.

But Mubaiwa opposed the application, citing if the matter is dealt with separately, it would adversely affect her rights and those of their three children.

The judge ruled in favour of Chiwenga and said that the trial had not started because of Mubaiwa’s poor health “is public knowledge” and it is “not clear when the trial will take place” and any delays “would inevitably result in prejudice to Chiwenga.

“Since it is not necessary to prove which spouse was at fault in causing the break-up of the union, there is no link between distribution of the assets and dissolution of the union. Mubaiwa has not provided a reason for arguing that the issues should not be separated.

“The issue of (child) custody does not present any court with insurmountable difficulty as the best interests of the children are the paramount consideration. No cogent basis has been given for opposing the relief sought.

“In fact Chiwenga would suffer prejudice if the determination of the status of the customary union was held back simply to suit Mubaiwa’s convenience,” Tagu ruled.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Lazini Ncube is expected to deliver judgement on Friday in Mubaiwa’s trial in which she was accused of fraudulently trying to upgrade the customary union to a civil marriage without Chiwenga’s knowledge in 2019.

Mubaiwa is also facing other charges of attempting to kill the VP, assault and money laundering. Nehanda Radio