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Zimbabwe VP Wife, Charged With Corruption and Attempted Murder, Files for Bail

Marry Chiwenga, center, arrives at Harare Magistrate Court, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec. 16, 2019. (Columbus Mavhunga/VOA)

Lawyers for Marry Chiwenga, the wife of Zimbabwe's vice president, Constantino Chiwenga, have asked judges to free her on bail, four days after she was arrested for allegedly attempting to murder her husband.

Attorney Toana Nyamakura filed the bail application on behalf of Marry Chiwenga at the High Court on Wednesday.

While Nyamakura refused to speak to reporters, Kenny Mubaiwa, the father of the former model, maintained his earlier line and only said:

According to state prosecutors, when Vice President Chiwenga was flown to South Africa for medical care in June, Marry Chiwenga forced her husband to stay at a hotel overnight, denying him treatment for about 24 hours. When security agents finally took the vice president to a hospital, his wife allegedly entered his room and removed an IV and a catheter, resulting in profuse bleeding.

Marry Chiwenga was also charged with corruption for allegedly using $1 million in foreign currency - of which there is a shortage in Zimbabwe - to buy houses and luxury vehicles abroad.

Alexander Rusero, a senior journalism lecturer at Harare Polytechnic College, says the attempted murder charge might well be true.

“When you have a whole vice president accusing his wife of murder, I think there is an element of truth to it. No husband in his entire pride would want to bring, or wash dirty linen unless there is something important, and in this case, a life-threatening issue," he said.

At the same time, Rusero said he thinks the vice president is using his office to get back at his wife, from whom he recently filed for divorce.

“It is an exercise of power, an exercise of office, because the truth is that these are really domestic issues which have nothing to do with the national psyche, which actually have nothing to do with the current efforts that the government might otherwise try to nip the issue of corruption in the bud. They fall away, they are just a matter of flexing muscle by the vice president,” Rusero said.

Mrs. Chiwenga is facing another charge of trying to obtain an official marriage certificate without the vice president's consent. The Chiwengas have been married for eight years under Zimbabwe’s customary law, a lesser status than the country’s official civil marriage. The state says Marry Chiwenga was attempting to position herself financially and politically in case the vice president died.

State prosecutors are opposed to granting bail, saying Marry Chiwenga has properties outside Zimbabwe and could flee the country to avoid significant jail time.

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