The controversy surrounding a multimillion-dollar ring Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe purchased from a Lebanese businessman in Harare has taken a dramatic twist amid claims political detractors were involved in a malicious campaign against her and her family.
President Robert Mugabe’s wife alleged in her court affidavits businessman Jamal Ahmed was a conman working with her political enemies to soil her family’s image.
This is the aftermath of a controversial, botched deal that saw Grace Mugabe last year pay Ahmed $1.4 million (about R21 million) for a ring to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their wedding.
Papers in court allege Ahmed failed to deliver the 10.07-carat gemstone on the agreed date in August. Grace Mugabe then demanded her money back. “I realised, possibly, I had been duped,” she said.
Mrs Mugabe has subsequently taken over three Harare three properties belonging to Ahmed to compensate for the loss, and has defied court orders to hand them back.
She alleged the businessman was part of a campaign to vilify the first family while opponents had made the most of the scandal.
Grace Mugabe is increasingly wielding power in Zimbabwean politics and is said to lead a faction planning to succeed her aged husband (92).
Meanwhile, South African-born Grace, known for her extravagance, has defended her spending on the ring. Her actions had sparked outrage in the poverty-stricken country.
Grace claims she had not used state money but had saved for years through her farming and dairy businesses. “This was hard-earned money. It’s a lot of sacrifice that my husband did,” she states in court papers.