A MAJOR row has erupted among relatives of the late national hero and Cabinet minister, Perrance Shiri, as they fight to benefit from his significant estate.
This comes as it has emerged that the former Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement minister left behind several children – with many of them who were not previously known, and whose filial links to Shiri are disputed, now coming forward to be part of the would-be beneficiaries.
Shiri, a former military commander and distinguished liberation struggle fighter, was born Bigboy Samson Chikerema before changing his name when he joined Zimbabwe’s war for independence in the 1970s. He died at the end of July after contracting the lethal coronavirus, which also killed one of his aides.
Members of his family confirmed to the Daily News at the weekend that a nasty fight had erupted among his relatives and political associates over how his estate should be administered – with some of the family members claiming that certain relatives wanted to elbow out some of Shiri’s children from the inheritance.
One of the aggrieved family members said Shiri had left behind a sizeable estate which included a host of properties – including a house in Borrowdale and a farm in Bindura that had chalets – as well as a fleet of top-of-the range vehicles, several buses and a trucking company.
Another family member also said he had interests in a thriving local tile manufacturing firm. The fight for Shiri’s wealth, the insiders said, was pitting – in the main – the late minister’s siblings against his “many children”, whose exact number could not be ascertained.
They added that the ugly battle was raging despite the fact that Shiri, who was not married, had left a will bequeathing a large chunk of his wealth to his children and a few close family members.
So serious has the family feud become that his maternal uncle – a retired lieutenant colonel only identified as Chigwedu, and who stays at the late former Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) commander’s farm in Chegutu’s Pickstone area – is said to have now been roped in to try to mediate the differences.
Approached by the Daily News to shed more light on the matter, one of the late Shiri’s relatives, Benjamin Chikerema – who acted as family spokesperson when he died – was tight-lipped.
“Whoever is telling you that probably has more information. There are people who are looking into the matter of his estate and those are better placed to give you information.
“The same also goes with his memorial. There are people organising it,” was all he would say. Shiri’s brother, Peter Zimondi – who is not related to former prisons boss Paradzai – also refused to comment on the matter.
“I am only the guardian and not the family spokesperson. You can talk to uncle Chikaka regarding those issues,” Zimondi said.
Efforts by the Daily News to locate the said Chikaka were unsuccessful.
But the insiders who spoke to the Daily News also said at the weekend that some of the late Shiri’s friends and political associates had allegedly joined the fight on the side of his sisters – who were allegedly disputing the paternity of some of the late national hero’s children.
Shiri’s sisters are said to be demanding that DNA tests be done to ascertain if the children are indeed his.
“He left a will which articulated how his estate should be distributed. He allocated the majority of his wealth to his children.
“Some family members not included in the will feel they are entitled to benefit, resulting in a clash. There are also some family members calling for the dead hero’s wishes to give his children what he sweated for.
“Others are, however, disputing the contents of the will,” one of the family members told the Daily News. Another family member, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Daily News that some relatives were allegedly refusing to surrender some properties that were left in their custody in a bid to freeze out the late hero’s children.
“There are eight trucks and 12 other vehicles which some are trying to conceal. We know all about it. “These things are for the children and they should benefit. Some are allocating themselves shares of the things he left behind,” this other family member said.
At the time of his death, Shiri was engaged in significant efforts to try and revamp the country’s agriculture sector to boost production through various projects and programmes – including the John Deere mechanisation programme.
Shiri died at the end of July, a few days after his driver succumbed to the lethal coronavirus that has killed millions of people around the world. The late liberation stalwart is said to have endured a difficult and lonely death in his car, as he tried in vain to drive himself to a hospital for treatment.