Messy high-profile divorce exposes Mugabe family’s vast wealth

Bona Mugabe

Nyepudzayi Bona Mugabe, daughter to former Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

Photo credit: AFP

What you need to know:

  • Ms Mugabe is demanding the custody of the children and is seeking maintenance of $2,700 monthly per child until they reach the age of 18. 

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s daughter’s high-profile divorce has revealed that the late ruler’s family owned at least 21 commercial farms and vast tracts of land in the capital-Harare.

Mr Mugabe’s daughter Bona Ouma Mugabe filed for divorce against her husband of nine years- Mr Simbarashe Mutsahuni Chikore, in March 2023, citing irreconcilable differences.

Her estranged husband has listed 21 farms, more than 25 upmarket residential properties, cash, companies and movable properties worth millions of dollars as matrimonial property that must be shared if the divorce is granted.

Mr Chikore claimed that the property he listed was just a drop in the ocean compared to what Ms Mugabe owned.

“Defendant (Mr Chikore) is not claiming even a third thereof,” read Mr Chikore’s plea filed in response to his wife’s application for divorce at the High Court.

“Defendant contributed to acquiring the properties through his savings from his former jobs as a pilot and the farming venture.”

He said he contributed to the wealth through earning and donations from his father-in-law for work, jobs and special assignments done on behalf of the late Mr Mugabe.

“There is much input through direct and indirect contribution wherein defendant contributed to the assets, both movable and immovable, acquired during the subsistence of the marriage,” Mr Chikore added.

The couple tied the knot on March 1, 2014 in a lavish ceremony that was attended by several African heads of State and government.

Their wedding was broadcast live by the country’s State broadcaster.

According to court papers, the couple who have three children have been living apart for more than nine months.

Ms Mugabe is demanding the custody of the children and is seeking maintenance of $2,700 monthly per child until they reach the age of 18.

She wanted the court to delay dealing with the property issues arguing that it would delay the granting of the divorce decree.

In his counter claim, Mr Chikore wants all properties acquired during the subsidence of their marriage or donated to them as a couple to be shared equally.

Mr Mugabe died in September 2019, two years after he was toppled in a military coup.

He ruled the southern African country with an iron fist for 37 years where he spearheaded a violent land reform programme with a “one household one farm” policy.

Three years ago, a list filed in court by his daughter while seeking to register her father’s estate claimed Mr Mugabe only left $10 million held in a local bank, four houses in Harare, 10 cars, a farm, his rural home and orchard.

A former minister in Mr Mugabe’s government Jonathan Moyo described the revelations about the wealth as “staggering.”