A nasty fight has erupted among the late national hero and former Justice minister Eddison Zvobgo’s family over his significant estate, which includes well-known hotels in Masvingo.
This comes amid allegations that his son, Eddison Zvobgo Jnr, and younger brother, Prof Rungano Zvobgo, are keeping a tight leash on the late nationalist’s estate, to some of his children’s disadvantage.
In addition, Zvobgo Jnr and one of his sisters, Tsungirirai Julia, also stand accused of allegedly assaulting the mother of one of the estate’s other beneficiaries in May this year over the inheritance.
All this also comes after High Court judge Alfas Chitakunye ruled in August 2006 that all of Zvobgo’s seven children — some of whom were born out of wedlock — should get equal shares from the estate.
Speaking to the Daily News at the weekend, one of the beneficiaries of the estate, Ester — whose mother Hellen Sezzy is said to have been Zvobgo’s third wife — claimed that she, Jonas, Tendai and Farai were being denied access to assets that were left behind by their father.
She also claimed that Eddison Jnr, Kerina Makaita and Tsungirirai Julia — Zvobgo’s three children with his national heroine first wife Julia — were the only ones of his offspring benefitting from his vast estate.
“So since my father passed away in 2004, we were all left equal shares of his estate. I am sure you are aware of the court cases that transpired during that time where the courts ruled that we all share the inheritance equally.
“It has been 18 years now that my half-brother together with my uncle, Professor Rungano Zvobgo, have tried to keep us out of our inheritance.
“They have sold many properties without our consent and stolen money from us all these years. We have tried talking to them for the past 18 years to no avail,” Ester told the Daily News.
She added that matters came to a head in May this year when Zvobgo Jnr and Tsungirirai Julia allegedly assaulted Sezzy when she attended a shareholders’ meeting as her daughter’s proxy.
“Since I am based outside Zimbabwe, I signed a proxy for my mother to represent me during the meeting. We asked for a forensic audit, which they keep refusing to carry out.
“They (Eddison Jnr and Tsungirai Julia) ended up assaulting my mother and she sustained serious injuries.
“The most annoying thing for me is the assault, as well as the fact that he keeps stealing our money to run for MP in 2023.
“How can Zanu PF want such a man to run for parliamentary elections in the name of the party when he assaults women and steals from his own siblings?
“A docket was opened in Masvingo. They are, however, still waiting for the doctor’s report from her to finalise the case,” Ester further told the Daily News.
She also alleged that her brother was attempting to acquire a loan US$2 million from a commercial bank “using one of our hotels, without the approval of other shareholders”.
“He needs some of the money to contest elections. I stopped the loan application with … (bank named but left out of story on legal advice).
“But he is still trying to get loans behind our backs just to finance his political career. I have evidence of conversations with (another named bank) if you need proof,” Ester also told the Daily News.
Contacted for a comment, Zvobgo Jnr vehemently denied all the allegations, including claims that they ever assaulted Sezzy.
He also said while the court had ruled that all his siblings were entitled to equal shareholding, he had ended up with 74,8 percent after he inherited his late mother’s 45 percent shares from the estate.
“They (siblings) are directors and shareholders. So, if they have any grievances, we arrange a meeting and discuss this.
“I do not know where the problem is coming from and I am not the only shareholder. There is a lady in the United States of America. There are so many.
“What is happening is that a lot of people forget that a company needs to invest. For instance, we have a farm.
“The farm needs to be utilised because it is big. We cannot sit down and watch the farm collapse. So, what do we invest in it? So, people do not understand that you have to put in money in order to earn money.
“These people want to tarnish my image because l will be running a campaign to be MP for Masvingo South. I fund my own campaign using my money. My wife works at a bank and l have the financial capacity to boost my campaign,” Zvobgo Jnr said.
He also denied refusing to conduct a forensic audit into his father’s estate saying the company’s directors had sought to do one but realised that it was unaffordable as it allegedly cost at least US$60 000.
“In any case, they are not even clear where and when they think a criminal offence was committed, yet it is important because it informs the auditors on what to look for. They are just shooting in the dark.
“I am not working with Rungano Zvobgo to oppress other children. That man is our father. He is the chairman of the company. He does not even own any shares.
“They (siblings) do not have proof of what they are saying. They once wrote a letter saying they want to sue our lawyer. We are saying ‘how do you sue your own lawyer’?
“If a shareholder is not happy, they can sell their shares,” Zvobgo Jnr further told the Daily News.
Zvobgo, a colourful and erudite politician, died on 22 August 2004 after a long battle with cancer.