Estates and Inheritance – The Hot African Issue (Part 1 of 2)

For many women in Zimbabwe, losing a husband does not just mean the loss of a loved one. It entails the loss of a father and a breadwinner. It can also mean the loss of livestock, furniture, clothes and property to relatives who insist that what belonged to the man now belongs to them. The repercussions can be devastating, sending the wife and her children into a spiral of poverty.

Estates and Inheritance – The Hot African Issue (Part 1 of 2)

With hundreds of women lining up daily at lawyers’ offices around the country to lodge complaints of relatives seizing property of their deceased husbands, the case of the Mushore family in Nyazura is a poignant one.

The family is embroiled in an inheritance fight pitting the husband’s divorced wife, her two children and the husband’s relatives against the surviving wife and her two children. They all want a share of the estate the deceased left behind. The patriarch of the family passed on, leaving a sizeable piece of land, a car, cattle and the two wives with children. The husband never wrote a will, choosing to leave everything to his surviving wife and their children.

Although the case is still pending before the traditional courts, Mercy Mushore by virtue of being the surviving wife, feels she and her two children are entitled to everything that her husband worked for. But children from the first wife say they are the rightful owners of their father’s property of which the second wife is having none of.

Estates and Inheritance – The Hot African Issue (Part 1 of 2)

Speaking after attending the traditional court session, Mrs Mercy Mushore said: “My husband told me that I should take care of everything so that I can be able to fend for the family but relatives and the first wife — whom he had divorced — want to take everything”.

The divorced wife, the surviving wife and relatives of the husband are not talking to each other over this inheritance dispute.

Sadly the Mushore family is not alone in the ever-growing inheritance nightmare, they are just a microcosm of many families in the country who are battling inheritance issues, of which women are always at the receiving end.

But why does this happen? Who inherits what in a family after the demise of a father? Who should really inherit a man’s property? A son, daughter, brother or sister?

Estates and Inheritance – The Hot African Issue (Part 1 of 2)

Accredited to Emmanuel Kafe
Writing for The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe)

Adopted and edited by Tapiwa Zuze

Check-out for Part 2 of the article.

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