Bridget Mananavire 25 January 2017
HARARE – Matabeleland South opposition legislator Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga yesterday attacked the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption
Commission (Zacc) for interrogating her over her late husband’s estate,
and revealed she has not received any death benefits seven years after his
The legislator was speaking at the launch of a Human Rights Watch (HRW)
report on violations of property and inheritance rights of widows in
Harare yesterday, held under the theme “You will get nothing.”
Misihairabwi-Mushonga was widowed in 2009 after her husband Christopher,
died of injuries sustained in a botched robbery.
Following the tragic loss, her late husband’s children petitioned the
Master of the High Court to rule on the inheritance of his estate
following reports he left two wills. They alleged the second had been
After an initial spirited fight, Misihairabwi-Mushonga ceded the Mount
Pleasant home the couple had lived in as well as a flat and funds in the
couple’s joint accounts, cars, clothes, houses and household property,
among other things.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga revealed that she had been called in for questioning
by Zaac chairperson Goodson Nguni.
“I went with a lawyer to go meet with Nguni, about two months ago, because
he was the one who had called us to come.
“I lost it, I told him that I was left with nothing and you think you can
come back and start telling me that I had corruptly dealt with my late
husband’s estate,” Misiharirabwi-Mushonga told the Daily News after the
launch of the report.
“But what it says is that Zacc was now being used for either political or
personal issues. So this was now seven years after the process. And it
speaks to how institutions can be corrupted.
“The lawyer I went with, who is from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
told them that they should contact me through her, and she has not come
back to tell me that has happened.”
She said she was involved in an inheritance battle with her in-laws for
seven years before giving up.
“When they started using the police to pick up people in unmarked vehicles
at night, I gave up. I had to seek the intervention of police
commissioner-general (Augustine) Chihuri. They had the assumption that he
had properties in and outside Zimbabwe, that he had money in the bank, and
realised he had nothing,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
“It’s not just about property, but also the loss of human dignity. I would
title this `you will get nothing, you are nothing.’ This issue of widows’
rights is always side-lined. I was left with nothing but a suitcase.
“I had access to the courts, to the best lawyer, to information, and I was
a Cabinet minister. I went through an emotional breakdown.”
HRW senior researcher Southern Africa Dewa Mavhinga said the registration
of all types of marriages will empower women to claim their inheritance.
“One of the key challenges that rose in terms of verification of marriage
and proving marriages was the payment of lobola.
“But you know that sometimes marriages are consummated even without the
payment of lobola, so that was a barrier when widows were trying to assert
their rights,” Mavhinga said.
“But this should be looked at in relation to our call for the common
registration of all types of marriages, including customary law unions.”