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Harare deputy mayor in messy divorce

by Staff reporter
05 Feb 2012 at 15:52hrs | 1030 Views
Harare deputy mayor Mr Emmanuel Chiroto is locked in a bitter divorce with his estranged wife, Ms Heather Hunda, amid claims that the top city official may have tricked the former South African embassy employee into a six-month union in order to swindle her.

Although the two had a lavish white wedding and supposedly joined into holy matrimony by ordained Zaoga churchman Reverend Viniel Takavada on April 10 2010, their marriage was not registered as is the legal requirement.

This was despite the fact that Rev Takavada went through all the necessary nuptials at the ceremony and thereafter handed the couple a copy of a marriage certificate which they signed in front of relatives and friends, giving the impression that all was in order.

He, however, did not file the certificate for registration.

In his defence, through an affidavit filed at the Harare Magistrates' Court, Rev Takavada said he had not registered the marriage because the deputy mayor had a pending marriage with his late wife which he was still to nullify.

But according to legal expert Mr Rodgers Matsikidze, the validity of a marriage certificate falls away upon the death of a spouse.

"All the marriage officer has to do is to produce the death certificate upon registration of the new marriage." The high-profile case, which is being heard at the Harare Magistrates' Court, has exposed how the deputy mayor allegedly used his wife as cover when he began building a multi-million-dollar, 23- roomed mansion in Mt Pleasant suburb.

Ms Hunda is alleged to have largely financed the construction of the house, which the deputy mayor is now claiming as part of the settlement.

Mr Chiroto is one of the many MDC-T councillors who went through a stunning rags-to-riches turnaround after being elected into office and is being investigated for suspected corruption in connection with the construction of the mansion.

He is said to have deliberately prevented the formal registration of his union with Ms Hunda in an apparent scheme to ensure a smooth separation later on.

In papers filed at the court, Mr Chiroto argues that the union has irretrievably broken down and applies for nullification of what he said was just a customary union.

He has also asked the court to grant an order allowing each party to remain with the immovable property in their possession.

"During the subsistence of the union the parties did not acquire any immov- able property," reads part of the court papers.

"The plaintiff (Mr Chiroto) believes that it is just and equitable that each party keeps the movable property which is in its custody as his or her sole property.

"The plaintiff's claim is for a decree of nullity of the customary union and costs of the suit."

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, the deputy mayor claimed that despite filing for divorce, he still enjoyed cordial relations with his wife.

"She and I are always meeting from time to time and we have never at anytime had a confrontational relationship.

"The issue of the alleged cover-up is borne out of pure malice and I will not waste time responding to those allegations."

Ms Hunda would not comment on the matter.

Source - sm
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