After a decade of legal uncertainty, the supreme court of Zimbabwe has clarified a contentious problem relating to whether spouses are legally obliged to bequeath their property to each other. The courts have been divided over the issue for some time. Some have taken the view, now upheld by the supreme court, that a spouse, not married in community of property, has testamentary freedom. Others said that a will effectively disinheriting the other spouse was unlawful. Moreover, it had a disproportionate effect on women and would thus be unconstitutional.
For the last 10 years, judges of Zimbabwe’s high court have been surprisingly divided about what you might think is a fairly straightforward question: does a spouse married out of community of property have the right, in making a will, to leave his or her property to someone who is not the other spouse?