BY LENIN NDEBELE AND JOHN NCUBE
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s estranged wife, Mary Mubaiwa, has accused the retired army general of directing two leading banks to block her from accessing her accounts.
Through her lawyers, Mubaiwa has threatened to sue Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and FBC Bank for acting illegally by taking instructions from someone who is not a signatory on her accounts.
“The only conclusion that she has come to is that the decision not to process her transactions is synchronised and has been taken by the bank,” says a letter sent to Chiwenga’s lawyer, Wilson Manase, and the manager of CBZ’s Borrowdale branch, Mernard Moyo.
“We advise that your conduct is unlawful and should cease forthwith as there has been no form of due legal process to bar our client from transacting on the account,” say Mubaiwa’s lawyers.
The letter accuses Manase of instructing Moyo to provide him with statements relating to Mubaiwa’s accounts and those of companies, including Matfield Investments, of which the former model is a director.
“We are instructed that Mr Moyo duly complied with the unlawful instruction, in complete disregard of all banking ethics and procedures,” it says.
Mubaiwa claimed FBC Bank did not explain why she had been denied access to her account.
“Our client was surprised when FBC Bank denied her the right to withdraw money from her account and she was advised that the ‘bosses’ would get in touch with her, which they had not done at the time of the writing of the letter,” her lawyers write.
Both banks declined to comment to the Sunday Times, saying they could not discuss client matters.
In December, when their divorce proceedings began, Chiwenga sued Mubaiwa for US$245,428 that was allegedly in her FBC bank account. The vice-president claimed the money was his and had been paid into her account as proceeds from his hunting concessions.
Mubaiwa’s CBZ account is linked to alleged externalisation of close to US$2m between last April and October. The money was used to buy property in Pretoria and two top-of-the-range Range Rovers registered in SA.
In December, Chiwenga initially wanted to take the houses and cars, even though the money used to buy them was the subject of a Zimbabwe Ant-Corruption Commission (ZACC) investigation he was accused of pushing for.
We are instructed that Mr Moyo duly complied with the unlawful instruction, in complete disregard of all banking ethics and procedures
Chiwenga’s lawyers said Mubaiwa’s claims that the vice-president had blocked access to her bank accounts were “rubbish” and “delusional”. If anyone had directed the accounts to be frozen, they said, it could have been ZACC investigators.
“It is denied that Mr Manase ever visited the said bank for purposes mentioned or any other at all,” the lawyers’ reply said.
“While Moyo is known to him as an officer of the bank, no communication took place with regards to what your client alleges. If the investigators from ZACC did visit the bank, it is within their right and mandate.”
Last week, Mubaiwa told journalists she was preparing for a life “in and out of jail” because her husband, who led the coup against the late Robert Mugabe in November 2017, was a ruthless man. She has lost an appeal for custody of their children.
Chiwenga and Mubaiwa have been wrangling since December, when the former army commander filed for divorce.
Mubaiwa was then arrested and charged with attempting to kill her former husband while he was in hospital in SA.
She was also charged with externalising foreign currency, money laundering and fraud. She has denied the charges, saying they were fabricated and claiming Chiwenga invented the murder plot in a bid to force her hand in the divorce proceedings.