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Published On: Sun, May 14th, 2017

Fight Over National hero General Vitalis Zvinavashe’s estate Spills Into Court

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The estate of the late Retired General Vitalis Zvinavashe has now divided the beneficiaries, prompting the national hero’s first born son, Richard to approach the court seeking to have the estate reopened in order to have his father’s assets distributed equally and fairly.

In his court application filed at the High Court in March this year, Richard accuses his step-mother, Margaret Zvinavashe of enriching herself at the expense of the other family members.

Richard also questioned the legality of his father’s will, which he said was signed in the presence of his step-mother, brother and a Harare lawyer Shingai Mutumbwa.

“It is not like he [Zvinavashe] made a Trust out of his own volition. While he was lying on his death bed, the second respondent [Mutumbwa] teamed up with third and fifth respondents [Margaret and Augustine Zvinavashe] [cited as applicants in a different matter], to draft a will and trust for my father’s signature and in his dying state, he affixed his signature. I have since gathered information to the effect that the three were the brains behind the two documents to further their own interests,” Richard said.

In the current application for a declaratory order, seeking to have the will invalidated, Richard cited Clement Ruzengwe (in his capacity as trustee and chairman of the Vitalis Musungwa Gava Zvinavashe Trust), Mutumbwa, Margaret, Kudakwashe Zvinavashe, Augustine, Master of the High Court and Registrar of Deeds as respondents.

“This is an application for a declaratory order. I am the first born son of the late Zvinavashe who died on March 10 2009. On 25 February 2009, Zvinavashe purportedly wrote a will in which he, among other things, provided for the creation of a trust and donated his assets to the said trust,” Richard said.

“I administered the will and transferred the assets to the trust in my capacity as executor testamentary. I have since discovered, however, that the will under which I was operating was invalid. The will was drafted by an interested party, the second respondent [Mutumbwa] who had interests to appoint himself a life trustee in the trust that was to be formed in terms of the will.”

He added: “The will was also then signed by two more interested parties, who also witnessed its drafting. The third respondent [Margaret] as surviving spouse witnessed its drafting. She was also a signatory thereto yet she is a beneficiary in terms of the will.”
Richard further said Augustine also witnessed the will yet he was to be a trustee upon the death of the late general.

“From the above, it is my contention that the will was invalid at law and as such, a nullity in so far as it was drafted and witnessed by interested parties. I therefore pray that the estate be re-opened and that the Assets be redistributed to individual beneficiaries. I believe this will put an end to the current in-fighting and apparent looting from the trust which is exacerbated by the badly drafted instrument which makes it difficult, if not impossible to amend the same,” he said.

Richard also said, to-date, there were assets and interests of the late general that were yet to be realised for the benefit of all the beneficiaries.

He said “the conduct of the second and third respondents [Mutumbwa and Margaret] have made it difficult for the realisation of these assets”.

“I refer this court to the supporting affidavit by the third respondent indicating that the trust has mines yet all information about these mines has been hidden and they are benefiting the 3rd respondent only,” he said.

Richard also said Margaret demanded that the trust buy her two very expensive vehicles namely a Nissan Navara at $50 000 and a Ford Ranger for $62 000 and the trust was still paying for the said vehicles and above all, she was also receiving $5 000 spousal maintenance every month.

After reading Richard’s affidavit, however, Master of High Court identified as S Madi, wrote a report on April 21 2017 stating that the executor administered the estate to finality having observed all statutory procedures.

“I confirm that no objections or claims were filed against the estate resulting in the confirmation of the distribution account in terms of the deceased’s will which was accepted by the master for estate administration purposes,” Madi said.

“In view of the confirmed account, the assets no longer belong to the estate. From the information filed of record, it appears the assets now belong to the trust which is managed by the trustees, inclusive of the applicant as nominated by the will.”

He added: “It is my further observation that the dispute is not centred on the management of the estate, in view of the confirmed account, but rather on the management of the trust, wherein the master has no jurisdiction.”

The matter was, however, removed from the roll by High Court judge Justice Hlekani Mwayera on April 26 2017 and another hearing date, if any, is yet to be set.-Standard

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