The late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s estate is causing sparks to fly, with the family of the former prime minister accusing his wife, Elizabeth, of tinkering with his valuables and attempting to grab his plush $3 million mansion in Highlands, Harare.
This comes after Elizabeth registered her late husband’s estate with the High Court, which includes a house in Strathaven, Harare, 45 head of cattle and six vehicles.
Family members of the late politician are not convinced that the inventory registered at the High Court in Harare represents all that the MDC leader had acquired during his long, working career, spanning nearly five decades.
Tsvangirai’s brother Manasa, hinted yesterday at what could turn out to be a knight of long knives in the courts of law as the family contest the estate, which they believe to have been grossly understated.
“Is that all that is listed as his properties?” Manasa asked rhetorically.
Upon leaving school, Tsvangirai landed his first job in 1972 as a trainee weaver for Elastics and Tapes in Mutare.
He later worked for Anglo America’s Bindura’s Nickel Mine for 10 years, rising from being a plant operator to plant supervisor before joining trade unionism.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union, where he was secretary-general between 1988 and 1999 became his launch pad into politics.
According to the estate she registered at the High Court, Tsvangirai has one immovable property in Strathaven, six vehicles — a Mercedes Benz S350, Mercedes Benz GL, Toyota Prado, Isuzu KB 300, Isuzu KB 250, Isuzu KB 250 — and 45 head of cattle.
The Highlands mansion was not included in the estate, possibly because Tsvangirai was yet to take ownership of the title deeds.
The Highlands property has been mired in controversy.
Government gave the MDC leader money to acquire the property when he was prime minister in the government of national unity (GNU) and had been reluctant to give him title deeds for the house.
Following the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe in November last year, his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has made an undertaking to transfer ownership into Tsvangirai, including resolving outstanding issues to do with his pension and other benefits that he was entitled to.
Tsvangirai passed on after a long battle with colon cancer before these issues could be finalised.
Tsvangirai’s other brother, Collins, referred questions to Manasa, saying his younger brother is the family spokesperson.
Manasa, who has become the central figure among family members that are up-in-arms with Elizabeth, said he was prepared to fight to the bitter end to ensure that Tsvangirai’s nine children get the lion’s share of their father’s belongings.
“We don’t want anything but those things should go to the children and not anyone else. We know that she (Elizabeth) has no children with Tsvangirai so justice must be done. Ask her where she was staying before his death; we don’t know where she was staying, she knows where she was staying, she cannot cheat herself, you cannot lie to yourself, your conscience should tell you that you are lying or not” said Manasa, implying the couple may not have been staying together towards the end of Tsvangirai’s life.
“As the family, we maintain that these things are for the kids. The children should be the beneficiaries. If she is a mother, she has an opportunity now to show us that. One thing that is clear is that those things belong to his children. The question that should now be asked: akafirwa ndiani? (Who is grieving here?) Is it the Macheka or Tsvangirai family? The tradition in our family is that when a man passes on, the children benefit and the children should then choose to share with whoever they want to,” added Manase.
Elizabeth was not picking up her phone yesterday.
The Tsvangirai family has been at loggerheads with Elizabeth, the wife Tsvangirai married in 2012, for a couple of years now.
While the couple had no children, Tsvangirai had nine children namely: Edwin, Vimbai, Milicent, Miriro, Ethen, Garikai, Rumbidzai, Vincent, and Richard.
Ethen is the only minor.
Elizabeth also had two children with different husbands.
Early this week, Elizabeth, who has taken charge of the former prime minister’s palatial Highlands home held a church service snubbed by her in-laws.
Manasa said he was surprised that Elizabeth convened a church service without input from their side of the family.
“I was not at the church service. No one from the Tsvangirai family knew about the church service. But the question is; who is the owner of the place where the church service was held? It certainly does not belong to us as Tsvangirai’s brothers but his kids. Why have a prayer meeting without the Tsvangirai family, if people want to have a church service why don’t they do it openly,” said Manasa.
Harassed by her in-laws since the time Tsvangirai was admitted to the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg, Elizabeth, 41, almost considered suicide as a flurry of accusations were thrown her way.
Her in-laws, who took over all the funeral proceedings from the time Tsvangirai’s body landed at the Robert Mugabe International Airport to the day he was buried in Buhera’s Humanikwa, sidelining the wife and making no effort to cover up the differences in public.
In South Africa, she had to be sneaked in, in order to visit her dying husband as the family of the deceased former prime minister maintained that she was no longer staying with their “son”.
The family even went as far as trying to remove her as next of kin — only to be stopped from doing so by Tsvangirai, but as though that was not enough, the family members also threatened to assault her in hospital.
But Manasa said that she was never ill-treated, adding sarcastically that she was actually thanked on January 9 when the family asked her to hand over Tsvangirai to them.