John Kachembere and Tarisai Machakaire 16 April 2017
HARARE – The divorce industry in Zimbabwe is worth millions a year and
mega-bucks settlements abound.
And when stay-at-home mum Sibusisiwe Melody Marapira recently demanded
custody of her three children with deputy Agriculture minister Davis
Marapira, a monthly maintenance of $500 per child, school fees and 65
hectares of arable land at Lamonte Farm, nine cows and household property
at 15 Reylands Court, Pomona in Harare, there was genuine fear that the
Zanu PF minister could be left with nothing.
The wife feels it’s especially unfair that he hobnobs with other female
partners and demands that there should be some Victorian penalty for his
“The defendant has been having numerous affairs with other women. Parties
want to lead separate lives. The defendant has been abusive to plaintiff
physically and mentally,” Sibusisiwe says in her divorce declaration.
Court papers actually reveal that the couple has myriad of immovable
property and own 200 cattle, 1 000 sheep and 65 hectares of arable land
under centre pivot irrigation all year round.
But this is small fry compared to other high-profile cases such as Home
Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo’s breakup with ex-wife Marian, Defence
Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga’s nasty separation with Joycelyn and
businessman Simon Rudland’s highly-publicised divorce with former wife
Family of God Church leader Andrew Wutawunashe and retired High Court
judge Moses Chinhengo have also been caught up in this divorce storm.
For the former, revelations of the man of God’s separation from his wife
Rutendo, came unwittingly through a letter written to the church’s elders
that he would soon remarry.
And it would seem some of these people would have been married for a
lifetime such as Chinhengo’s 20-year union with marketing, and public
relations practitioner Josephine.
In all these matters, there is or also seems to be a running theme that
“the relationships have irretrievably broken down that there are no
reasonable grounds for restoration”, allegations of physical and emotional
abuse as well as charges, and counter-accusations of infidelity.
In the Rudlands’ case, for instance, Leigh-Ann has even gone to the extent
of accusing her former husband Simon – who owns a majority stake in Zimre
Holdings and another diversified conglomerate CFI Holdings – of deserting
their matrimonial home.
And for divorce lawyers working on this legal spectrum, such cases are big
business, with the highest fliers reportedly commanding seven-figure
salaries – as they typically charge upwards of $1 000 an hour – and
allowing them to live almost as luxuriously as their clients.
They are also privy to fascinating details and insights about the lives of
these high-rollers, and powerful politicians.
This includes allegations of how these super-rich individuals have
concealed wealth and assets – behind a veneer of sophisticated trusts,
crooked lawyers and financial advisors – from their spouses and under an
increasing or widespread social phenomenon worldwide.
As such, this may explain the (application for) “media gags” around the
Chombo, Chiwenga and other elites’ divorce cases.
However, some titbits or morsels about these estranged couples’ acquired
real estate, cash holdings, assortment of vehicles and other material
possessions showing the extent of these people’s fabulous riches always
emerge – one way or another.
Marriage counsellor Agnes Moyo believes that while many couples in the
spotlight are faced with more temptation, opportunity, and a hectic,
jet-setting lifestyle than most, many of the issues these couples face are
not all that different from the challenges regular Zimbabwean couples must
overcome together – they’re just amplified.
“In every marriage there is a phenomenon of `two-facedness,’ and when our
internal voices and what we express out loud are at odds with each other,
the discrepancy begins to erode the relationship,” Moyo explained.
“There becomes this desire to look good, get approval, look like you’re
doing it right, and this creates a tension in yourself and in the
relationship,” she said, adding that this leads to the breakdown of the
relationship because there is no way to improve the relationship when
nobody’s telling the truth about what’s not working.
When you’re in the spotlight, she said, that need to look good is
amplified “a thousand times because everyone’s watching you.”
“It’s that much harder to be present in the truth because you’re so busy
keeping up appearances.”
To prevent unspoken issues from eroding a relationship, Moyo said couples
need to confront their issues head-on, however uncomfortable that may
seem, and then maintain this level of honesty by checking in frequently.
Wallace Matema, a preacher with a local church, said successful people
tend to put other things ahead of their marriages.
“For any couple, but for sure with couples in the spotlight or who have
high-powered jobs and are ushering big visions into the world, if there
isn’t an equally big vision for the marriage, that’s a really big
problem,” he said.
The man-of-cloth pointed out that the amount of vision and drive it takes
to attain or retain success in one’s career often requires that vision be
senior to other visions.
But in marriage, the relationship has to be most important.
“What oftentimes happens with high-powered couples is the career is senior
or the kids become senior, and the kids actually substitute that emotional
“When the kids replace the emotional connection between partners, they
have sold out on making sure their relationship stays healthy and this is
why most people get divorced,” he said.
“To avoid this, it’s important to align your visions for the relationship,
as well as for your career, kids, family, location, and habits,” Matema
Clinical psychologist Sue Roberts said high-flying couples stop doing the
little things that matter in life.
“The things you do in the beginning of a relationship – you go out on
dates, you spend time together, you plan special occasions, you plan
special gifts, you really listen when they talk, you remember things, you
care about their parents, you try to impress their friends – all those
things you did when you were courting, you actually have to keep doing,”
Successful people in particular have a hard time doing this because there
are so many more things competing for their attention. All of it takes
time, which is a scarce commodity.
“If you’re famous and you’re trying to keep a marriage together, you have
to be doing that on purpose, not if you get lucky or you try hard it will
turn out,” Roberts said.
One thing couples can be more deliberate about is the time they spend
together. Dedicated alone time, she said, should not be spent in front of
The veteran psychologist, who has worked with various successful couples
to reduce the distress and improve their psychological wellbeing,
indicated that divorce is not as scary when you are successful.
“I think successful people are more likely to think that they’ll be OK if
they divorce. People who need each other for financial support may be less
likely to split whereas successful people have more ability to support
themselves financially during and after divorce,” Roberts added.