Frank Buyanga has disclosed his intention to end his long-running child custody battle with his ex-girlfriend, but says he fears there will be “dire consequences” for her if she agrees to an amicable settlement.
The Sandton-based African Medallion Group millionaire and his feuding ex-girlfriend, Chantelle Muteswa, have been to every court in Zimbabwe, fighting over who should have custody of their five-year-old son amid accusations and counter-accusations of child abduction.
With two appeals currently before the Supreme Court, one by Buyanga and the other by Muteswa, the war of attrition has shown no signs of abetting.
Buyanga has alleged that Muteswa’s efforts to regain custody of her son have been hijacked by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s family who have a political axe to grind, and claims Muteswa is now a prisoner to those political designs.
Muteswa denies the Mnangagwas have been picking up her legal bills, but admitted going to State House for a meeting with first lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa.
The 40-year-old businessman signalled the thaw in an advert placed in the NewsDay newspaper on Wednesday, in which he says he is “aware of the importance of a relationship between mother and child.”
The statement, issued by his South African lawyer William Wilcock, adds that Buyanga is “not opposed to a friendly relationship with Ms Muteswa where they would be able to agree on aspects regarding their child and raise him harmoniously.”
“It has, however, recently become apparent that Ms Muteswa may struggle to have a normal mother-son relationship with her son, not because of any actions of our client, but by the actions of those backing her in her numerous court cases against Mr Buyanga. These parties do not wish for her to come to an amicable arrangement with Mr Buyanga, where both parents can agree on what is best for their son,” the lawyer said.
Buyanga, according to his lawyer, “believes that these parties have assisted Ms Muteswa thus far to further their own agenda, and now refuse to allow Ms Muteswa the opportunity to come to an amicable arrangement with our client, as numerous, lengthy, court battles keep Mr Sadiqi occupied and doing so greatly benefits them.”
The lawyer said there was “a fear that if Ms Muteswa were to push for an amicable settlement there would be dire consequences for her in Zimbabwe, and we believe that this fear is what is preventing her from ending the numerous court cases that have been ongoing and becoming amicable with Mr Buyanga.”
Buyanga said he “wishes for no negative consequences to come to the mother of his child and if possible, would love for his son to benefit from having a relationship with Ms Muteswa.”
The property tycoon left Zimbabwe in late March, according to his lawyers, and is believed to be in South Africa where he lives.
The High Court in April ordered Buyanga to return his son to Muteswa until her Supreme Court appeal challenging a court ruling giving both parents custody was finalised, but Buyanga says he is unable to comply owing to the coronavirus lockdown and is challenging the order at the Supreme Court.
Buyanga has also written to the International Police Organisation (Interpol) disputing claims by Zimbabwe’s police chief that he is a fugitive. In a letter to Interpol, Buyanga accuses Mnangagwa of targeting him for his perceived financial backing of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is reportedly plotting to grab power from the 77-year-old.
Muteswa speaking through her lawyer Munyaradzi Bwanya, told ZimLive: “What mother wants to be separated from her five-year-old child indefinitely or for prolonged periods of time? All I want is my son back.”
She said her lawyers had tabled a settlement proposal in April in which Buyanga would get the boy on weekends and school holidays; pay school fees; buy the child clothes every six months; put his son on medical aid and pay a contribution to the child’s accommodation costs. Under the proposal, Muteswa would be the sole custodian.