LOCAL Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo is embroiled in an acrimonious property-sharing wrangle with his wife, Marian, from whom he has been separated for the past three years.
The protracted divorce and property sharing dispute is now before the High Court.
The estranged couple agreed to divorce, but failed to reach a settlement on the sharing of vast properties spread countrywide despite several pre-trial conferences held to try to resolve the matter without going to trial.
On Wednesday, Judge President Justice George Chiweshe referred the contentious issues to trial after another attempt to resolve the matter hit a brick wall.
During the civil trial, the court will seek to come up with a formula on how to share the matrimonial property.
The court will hear evidence regarding contributions made by each of the parties in acquiring the properties.
The court will look at money invested as well as generation of ideas.
The hearing date is yet to be set.
Mr Wilson Manase of Manase and Manase is acting for Minister Chombo while Mr Motsi Sinyoro of Sinyoro and Partners is representing Mrs Marian Chombo (nee Muhloyi).
The two separated in 2007 and Minister Chombo wants a divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.
"The marriage between the two parties is irretrievably broken down to an extent that the two are not reconcilable and no prospects for . . . restoration of a normal marriage relationship," stated the minister in his declaration filed with the court.
He says the two have not lived together as husband and wife for at least 24 months and there is no more love or affection.
Minister Chombo has pledged to look after their two children, born in 1986 and 1989.
"He will take care of his two children's educational requi-rements, including air fares once a year to and from school, tuition and ancillary expenses," he said.
Minister Chombo says during the subsistence of the marriage they acquired property like furniture, utensils and electronic equipment.
He wants the couple's two houses in Alexandra Park and Greendale awarded to his wife.
The minister also proposes that all movable property at their Allan Grange Farm go to Mrs Chombo on condition that farming equipment which is not on loan or not yet fully-paid for is valuated and shared.
He also wants to be granted the first offer to buy the equipment.
Minister Chombo, however, is not agreeable to paying his estranged wife the US$2 000 monthly maintenance she is claiming, arguing that she can earn a living from the properties and businesses he wants to cede to her.
Continued next page