The Sunday Mail
FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has taken to the airwaves with a first of its kind radio talk show programme to tackle various issues affecting people in the spirit of nation building.
This becomes the first time in living memory that a First Lady has been actively involved in the search for solutions to challenges affecting the people with the aim of building the nation.
The inaugural programme, which aired yesterday on Radio Zimbabwe, was an educational show to raise awareness on inheritance matters, close knowledge gaps and ensure the law is respected.
The development comes at a time when the country is awash with cases of widows, widowers and orphans being chased away from home following the death of their breadwinner.
Titled “Nhaurirano NaAmai”, the radio programme ensures that the nation has access to valuable information during a time when there is a surge in Covid-19 cases which has resulted in travel restrictions being imposed.
Introducing the programme, the First Lady said her intervention was a continuation of the work she started in 2018 and assured the nation that no one would be left behind as issues affecting all members of the family will be tabled for discussion.
“This may be a new programme, but we started in 2018 dealing with issues of inheritance. Since 2018 we have been inundated with complains at my office.
“My programme leaves no one behind and we shall focus on all members of the family because they are all affected by inheritance issues. Because of Covid-19 we cannot afford to congregate as in the past when we moved to provinces and districts,” she said.
The First Lady said she conceived the radio programme after seeing that people needed guidance because the challenges they bring forward have a striking resemblance.
“We started in 2018 and we saw that from district to district the problems faced by our people are the same. This shows that this is our way of life and we are living through these problems. I am here so that we discuss and understand each other. We can no longer congregate as before but this platform will assist many people because today I have brought experts. As a mother I cannot know all,” said the First Lady.
Yesterday’s inaugural programme had three panellists who included the Master of High Court of Zimbabwe Mr Eldard Mutasa, Ms Pauline Mandigo, a board member of the Council of Estate Administrators which registers professional executors in Zimbabwe and Mr Charles Manhiri from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Mr Manhiri works under the department of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, which deals with Acts like the Administration of Estates Amendment Act, Deceased Estates Amendment Succession Act, Deceased Persons Family Maintenance Act and the Wills Act.
All the Acts under the department’s purview touch on inheritance matters.
During the interactive programme, the First Lady said she was concerned by the lack of knowledge about inheritance issues among the people.
“As an individual what I saw through my travels is that knowledge and teachings in rural areas are little. People do not know how to proceed when confronted with challenges. The other thing I discovered is that people must be enlightened so that this knowledge comes in handy when they lose someone.
“As a parent, I saw this as a learning window for us to know the importance of not distributing our wealth while we are still alive.
“Is it allowed to distribute my wealth while I am still alive? Is this legal?” she asked.
In response, Mr Mutasa said: “This programme brought by Amai allows us to appreciate that people lack knowledge. Even the educated do not understand the law therefore, this platform allows us to teach people. It’s illegal to distribute things at memorial services.”
Mr Mutasa said people were being disinherited through the use of cultural terms like “mapfihwa” for stove, “bonde” for bed and “chituro” for sofas.
He told the listeners that only clothes could be distributed after someone’s burial and nothing else, adding that ignorance of the law was not a defence.
He gave examples of family members who were in the habit of hiring trucks to ferry a deceased person’s property without authority from the Master of the High Court and said this was illegal.
He also took a dig at some pastors who offered prayers before the illegal distribution of people’s property and warned that these pastors can be held liable for prosecution for deodorising illegal activities.
“Some families will also disinherit a widow because aramba kugarwa nhaka, though there is disharmony between culture and law, law is supreme and must be followed and respected,” he said.
The First Lady said from what she gathered during her countrywide tours, widows were being left in the cold by deceased’s relatives who did not respect a will.
She then asked Ms Mandigo to shed more light on the issue of a will and types of marriages.
Ms Mandigo said if a man pays lobola despite not having proceeded to wed, that woman is entitled to a share of the husband’s wealth.
“If the parties got married and built a house without a registered marriage, the woman is entitled to continue staying at the home they were staying before the husband’s demise.
She said in the event that the husband had two spouses, each would be entitled to continue living the way they did prior to the husband’s demise.
The First Lady encouraged people to write wills to protect their properties and their loved ones.
She added that, if a will was properly written and signed, it should be respected and followed.
In an intriguing question, the First Lady said most women were deeply concerned over a law which made it impossible for a woman to inherit a house in circumstances where a husband dies while the wife was away in the rural areas.
In response to this, Mr Manhiri said the law did not bequeath properties to people without identifying who they are.
He said it was difficult for girlfriends cohabiting with married men to disinherit the bonafide wife because the law does not allow this.
“What has to be understood that while the law says a person who was staying in the house immediately before the husband’s death benefits, the same law asks who you are.
“What is your relationship with the deceased? Were you married? Are you the surviving spouse?
“A surviving spouse is someone who was paid lobola for or has a registered marriage with the deceased. These questions then inform the decision as to whether or not one inherits the house. Secondly, the wife in the rural areas can also be asked as to who she is. Who are you in the home? Were you married? Did you have a registered marriage or not? Even when you do not have a registered marriage, was lobola paid and does the family know you?”
The talk show was co-hosted by Lionel Mnkandla and Patricia Jacob.