By Lance Guma
Controversial Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe bought a diamond ring worth US$1,3 million from a Lebanese diamond dealer, Jamal Ahmed, in Dubai last year. The deal has however gone sour after President Robert Mugabe’s wife decided she no longer wanted the ring and is now demanding a refund.
The First Lady has since seized three Harare properties, one in Pomona and two in Avondale which belong to the dealer, a matter that has now been taken to the High Court.
According to court documents seen by Nehanda Radio, Grace paid for the ring in full using a Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe account and US$1,350,000 was wired to Dubai. After the ring was delivered Grace decided she did not want it and demanded her money back.
In response the dealer, who has homes in Harare, explained that he had paid for the ring to a third party and needed time to raise the money. Grace was having none of this and demanded that the money is paid into her Dubai account. That’s when the trouble started.
Ahmed maintains “any refund would have to be done in Harare through the account from which the original funds had come as a refund in Dubai could easily be seen as an externalisation of funds and I did not want to be party to anything that would appear illegal.”
The matter quickly escalated with the First Lady sending armed men to invade three of the dealers properties in Pomona and two in Avondale, Harare. His workers were kicked out. The First Lady’s son in law and her son from the first marriage Russell Goreraza threatened the dealer with all sorts of messages before taking over his properties.
The dealer has now approached the High Court to intervene and get the First Lady to leave his properties. His court application cites, Grace Mugabe, son Russell Goreraza and bodyguard Kennedy Fero. Ahmed says he received a message from Grace telling him;
“Please serve those papers in my name. Don’t involve my son it won’t help. Whoever is advising you will just take money from you unfortunately. All I need is my money instead of doing things that you will regret about”.
Explaining the background of the case Ahmed said; “Sometime in April 2015, (Grace Mugabe) the 2nd Respondent placed an order for a diamond with my daughter in Dubai which she indicated her husband wanted to buy her for their anniversary.”
“As the diamond was not readily available, it had to be sourced from a third party who wanted to be paid upfront and when this was advised to the 2nd Respondent, she indicated that she was in Singapore and could not immediately pay and that we could pay on her behalf in Harare and she would refund the amount. This was done.”
“Thereafter, and with her approval, the diamond had to be polished by a third party who also needed to be paid and again we made this payment on the basis that she would refund these payments as she authorised the polishing by a third party.
“Upon her return to Harare, the 2nd Respondent instructed CBZ BANK to attend to the transfer of the US$1,350,000.00 (one million three hundred and fifty thousand United States dollars), being the purchase price for the finished diamond, which amount took time to transfer as it had become difficult to transfer money out of Zimbabwe. The transfer was ultimately done in 2016 and the diamond was tendered to the 2nd Respondent in Dubai.”
“Surprisingly, the 2nd Respondent then refused to take delivery of the diamond and instead demanded a full refund in Dubai,” Ahmed explained in his court papers. He says despite offering a payment plan the First Lady has proceeded to seize his three properties.
“Respondents commenced a reign of terror and harassment where I was verbally threatened, harassed, insulted and told that I could not do anything to them as they are in fact “Zimbabwe”. Threats of taking over my properties in Zimbabwe were also made and the Respondents were joined in these abuses by the 2nd Respondent’s son in-law.”
“My father was at the time unwell in Belgium and he subsequently died resulting in me having to travel to Belgium on the ……… , 2016. It was during my stay in Belgium that I received reports on the 14th October, 2016 that the Respondents had forcibly taken control of the three immovable properties,” Ahmed said in his court papers.
The case throws a spotlight into the finances of the First Family. After claiming that their Alpha Omega Dairy was struggling under debts, it will astonish many that the President could afford to splash out $1,3 million on a diamond ring for their wedding anniversary.
The case might also explain President Mugabe’s reluctance to have Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo (a key G40 faction ally) face charges for allegedly looting nearly $500 000 from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef). Nehanda Radio