A court in Mzuzu has ruled that a housewife is entitled to matrimonial property since she contributes to the family through cooking, washing, cleaning the house, looking after the husband and children.
The Principal Resident Magistrate Court in Mzuzu made the ruling on 18 January in a case in which former cabinet minister Nicholus Dausi’s ex-wife applied for the distribution of matrimonial properties acquired during their 12-year marriage.
The two got married in 2005 and the woman, Veronica Nyirenda, told the court that they had literally nothing as Dausi was not working.
However, over the course of their marriage which ended in 2016, they together had acquired 5 houses, 9 motor vehicles and 105 cows.
Dausi worked as press officer to former president Kamuzu Banda between 1994 and 1997 and he told the court that he was not working between 1997 and 2007.
In 2007, he joined the Democratic Progressive Party and met the then president Bingu Wa Mutharika who appointed him Presidential Advisor on National Unity and later in 2010 as deputy minister. Between 2012 and 2014, the DPP was an opposition but after it returned to power in 2014, Dausi was appointed Director General for National Intelligence Services. He told the court that some of the property mentioned by his ex-wife belonged to his son Mwai Dausi.
Principal resident magistrate Peter Kandulu noted that Dausi did not provide the court with evidence to prove that the mentioned motor vehicles and houses belonged to Mwai Dausi.
Investigation ordered by the court revealed that Dausi owns 21 vehicles and that his ex-wife lives in a small rented house where she is paying MK15, 000.00 rent a month.
“The Applicant has been made destitute as if she was not married to a Member of Parliament, Cabinet Minister and Director General of the NIS. It is a pity that she has been lowered down to work in a small grocery and subjected to receive MK30, 000.00 as salary per month. This is despite that during the subsistence of their marriage they were blessed with resources which is being enjoyed by the Respondent alone.
“In my view, this is unfair and humiliating to women who after providing service to the satisfaction of this man, decides to divorce her and leave her without nothing but to live as if she was contributing nothing in kind,” reads part of the ruling.
Dausi argued that his ex-wife should not benefit from the matrimonial property acquired during the existence of their marriage since she was not working hence she did not contribute financially or materially or anything towards the acquisition of the houses, motor vehicles and cows.
But Kandulu said a house wife is entitled to a share of matrimonial property at the dissolution of marriage.
“Her contribution can be quantified as cooking, washing, cleaning the house, looking after the husband and children among others. The same applies to a jobless man as against a working wife.
“Since ordinarily people in marriage do not contemplate dissolution of their marriage when acquiring property, it must therefore be a duty of the court to determine the intention of the parties and make an order as to how the property should be shared,” he said.
He then awarded Nyirenda four motor vehicles, two houses and 30 cows. Dausi was awarded 5 vehicles, three houses and 75 cows.