Shiri estate in fresh storm

Perrance Shiri

THE late Agriculture minister Air Marshal Perrance Shiri’s children have dragged the family’s executor, former Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, to court to force him to release money held in the politician’s estate so that it does not lose value.

Tatenda and Cynthia Shiri cited Gula-Ndebele, Master of the High Court, Rufaro Stephanie Shiri, Tawanda Zulu and Tanaka Musvanhiri as respondents in the matter.

They are represented by Liveours Mundieta and Grace Wagoneka-Madzivanyika.

In their submissions, they said the money held in the estate since 2020 was losing value on a daily basis owing to inflation.

They claimed that Gula-Ndebele was refusing to release the money citing pending matters in the courts between the parties.

The matter was heard in chambers before Justice Neville Wamambo on October 11, 2022. Justice Wamambo reserved judgment.

According to their lawyer, Gula-Ndebele was appointed executor after Shiri’s death in July 2020, and the estate was finalised in 2021.

“However, the executor is refusing to disburse this money to the applicants and other beneficiaries on the basis that there has been a legal challenge to the Final Distribution Account in Case Number HC399/22, which is currently pending before this honourable court. On September 14, 2022, the applicant’s legal practitioners received the financial statement that shows the amount that is being held in trust on behalf of the beneficiaries,” they submitted.

“According to the statement, the amount that was supposed to be held in United States dollars is US$428 492,25, but the amount being held is $73 246 316,85. If the RBZ exchange rate as applied on the 20th of September 2022 (US$ 1:$604,18) is used, the $73 246 316,85 being held in trust will be equivalent to US$121 232,61. This means to date, there has been a loss of US$307 259,64. It is clear that due to the devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar, the value of the trust funds being held is depreciating causing irreparable financial harm to the applicants.

“It is clear that the applicants without delay approached their legal practitioners and instructed them to urgently approach this honourable court for relief sought. It is my opinion that the facts of this matter clearly shows that if this honourable court does not intervene urgently, the funds will eventually hold no value.”

In his opposing affidavit Gula-Ndebele said the applicants did not show their interest in the funds, adding that the matter was not urgent.

“It is equally common cause that the Zimbabwean dollar has been seriously affected by devaluation at all material times. That notwithstanding, the applicants did not take any immediate action to protect that purported interest. Accordingly, the applicants have not treated the matter with any urgency at all,” Gula-Ndebele said.

“It is denied that the applicants’ legal practitioners requested financial statements in respect of the estate from myself.

“In the circumstances, I aver that it is inconceivable that the applicants were prevented from acting timeously in protecting their interests by the absence of the documents they never requested from myself.”

Shiri’s estate has been furiously contested with some of his children challenging the appointment of Gula-Ndebele as executor when the late Agriculture minister had a family trust with its own executor.

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