A MESSY Family wrangle has erupted over the sharing of property of the late former Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) chief of staff, major general Trust Mugoba, with some family members accusing the live-in spouse of grabbing all the assets and abusing at least US$104 000 in connivance with an executor, explosive details show.
At least four women with whom Mugoba had minor children before his demise in September 2019 are brawling over the vast estate, which includes several houses, a Beatrice farm teeming with cattle, residential stands and cash.
According to his last will and testimony seen by NewZimbabwe.com this week, Mugoba left behind a total of 11 children with different women, the youngest one having been born just under a year before his death.
But there could yet be more claimants to his estate as he sullenly bequeathed “any cash that might be available to my chidren, born or yet to be born”, implying he may have been aware there were some unborn of his children.
A distinguished liberation war fighter, decorated liberation hero, Mugoba left his post in the army in March 2017 after he was seconded to the African Union where he assumed the position of Chief of Staff of the continental Stand-by Force.
Accroding to some of the claimants, in a matter which is also before the Master of the High Court, Mugaba’s surviving spouse Peddie allegedly connived with Canada-based younger brother Jabulani Moyo.
Moyo was appointed a co-executor of the estate along with former Attorney-General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, but because the law does not permit a person who is not ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe to become an executor, he ceded the power of attorney to a friend identified as Kenias Mafukidze.
Bitter family members now accuse Mafukidze of outmuscling Gula-Ndebele and conniving with Peddie to defy the will and grabbing the entire estate.
At the centre of the wrangle currently is cash amounting to US$104 000, US$78 000 of which was part of Mugoba’s outstanding payments from his AU ambassadorial role.
In his will, Mugoba had indicated that half of this money would be used for his four minor children’s school fees, but three other women now claim they have not received anything from the money.
The matter has since become subject to a raging storm on the family’s WhatsApp group, where accountability is being demanded from Mafukidze as the chief executor.
In one of the chats in a family group, Mafukidze acknowledged receiving US$104 000 from Zimbabwe Defence Forces and Government of Zimbabwe as part of the estate but when other supposed beneficiaries asked for the money they were told that only US$40 000 was left.
There was no explanation regarding what the rest of the money was used for and in order to raise school fees for the children, Mafukidze proposed that the family sells 200 cattle at the family farm.
Family sources also claim money received from a sale of some of the cattle never went to the intended beneficiaries.
“Find below the TOTAL cash available to the Estate to be used to liquidate liabilities as they arise. The total available comes to USD 104 653, 49 BEFORE sale of cattle. The vouchers for this form part of the submission to the Master which too will be Audited,” Mafukidze in a memorandum distributed to the family, which was seen by NewZimbabwe.com.
Mafukidze further explained that more US$60 000 was used to run the farm and pay school fees and ballet classes for Peddie Mugoba’s minor child. The other mothers claim their children got nothing.
Mafukidze is seeking to sell further 155 to raise another US$60 000 which he says would be used to pay for liabilities.
“The USD60 000 raised is targeted towards paying liabilities. These include school and executors fees, operational expenses and provision for transfer fees for properties. We have also provided for farm operational costs. The sale of CATTLE IS EXPECTED to decongest the farm and raise a further USD60 000 bringing available cash to USD100 704,18,” he said in another memo.
When asked how they used the money, Mafukidze referred NewZimbabwe.com to the Master of High Court.
“Kindly be advised that I take and treat client/customer confidentiality seriously, and therefore do not discuss matters of this nature in public. Suffice it to say to my knowledge, as far as we are concerned, all the applicable laws & regulations governing the administration of deceased estates have been complied with to the satisfaction of the Master. As you maybe aware Sir, the relevant laws are administered by the Master of the High Court and he supervises the work of Executors. Please kindly feel free to get clarifications from the Master’s office on the matters you raise as he is the principal on all estates,” he said.
“In addition, you may need to send your enquiries and clarifications from Messrs Jabulani Moyo & Gula-Ndebele, the appointed principal Executors in the Estate,” he said.
Efforts to get comments from Gula-Ndebele were fruitless.
However, inquiries indicated that the Master of High Court has been asking them to provide proof of how they used funds since last year and was yet to be furnished with that information.
According to the deceased estate laws, the Master of High Court is not responsible for holding and releasing funds. He only authorises release once a request has been made by the Executors
“The biggest question is why have they been holding on to more than US$100 000 for over year yet they have not released money to minor children. Next thing we are told we used some of the money and left with US$40 000. Why not distribute what is left. They tell us to wait for the final distribution which includes properties and when is that going to happen when we have waited for almost two years with nothing happening,” a family member who did not want to be named said.
Peddie is also being accused of unilaterally assuming ownership of a Greendale house given to Mugoba posthumously by the army.
“She went on to claim a house allocated to the late General yet the will says any additional immovable assets acquired would be distributed equally amongst children. We are yet to hear the Army’s comment regarding this issue. She was summoned several times by the High court regarding all these issues and she never attended the hearings,” one of the intended beneficiaries said
The beneficiaries are being represented by Jiti and Partners.
When contacted for comment, Peddie Mugoba referred this reporter to the executor and the Master of the High Court.
“The Master of High Court is handling the estate with help of executors. You get info there” she said.