THE botched $1,4 million diamond ring deal saga involving Grace Mugabe and a Lebanese dealer, Jamal Ahmed, has taken a new twist with the controversial First lady sensationally claiming she was duped by what she claimed to be an international fraudster on the Interpol wanted list.
Grace has since seized the businessman’s Harare properties demanding compensation with the latter approaching the courts seeking protection from the powerful first lady.
An order was granted in Ahmed’s favour.
But the legal fight has lifted the lid on the first family’s alleged involvement in massive plunder in a country battling widespread poverty caused by successive economic crises under the 92 year old leader’s rule.
In claims that have baffled many Zimbabweans, Grace, admits she was duped by the dealer, something many would likely consider unthinkable given her proximity to one of the world’s most powerful individuals.
“I realised, possibly, I had been duped. I threatened legal action as well. The fact that the police were investigating the same person was a coincidence.
“Possibly first applicant thought since he had defrauded me, it would be myself, who ordered the guarding of his houses.
“He was wrong,” Grace says as she gives her account on how she met Ahmed through his wife and daughter in Dubai and how she was enticed into ordering the expensive ring from him.
The first lady in her affidavit also vehemently denies claims by some Zimbabweans the first couple was corrupt after ordering a $1,4 m ring to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
“This was hard-earned money saved over the years for this 20th anniversary. I cannot keep quiet,” she said.
“It’s a lot of sacrifice that my husband did from [our] farming and dairy business.”
The challenge was filed through her lawyers Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners.
Grace’s claims are in sharp contrast with claims she has made before that the first family’s dairy business was struggling to raise profits.
Zimbabwean hospitals have gone without medicine and medical personnel while President Mugabe and his cronies have constantly claimed the country’s sorry state was a direct result of western imposed sanctions on the country.
President Mugabe has often come under fire for chorusing his “no tolerance to corruption” statements that he has failed to follow up with concrete action on the ground.
The first family is thought to be owning properties worth millions of dollars and cash outside the country although the first lady denies the suggestions.
“I have never thought of externalising money, neither can I do so, as any account I open will be pounced upon, as we are on sanctions with my husband.
“We lead by example,” said the first lady, whose husband has been said to be carrying an amount $6 million each time he travelled outside, with no obligation to return any remainder.
“I never asked that I be paid in Dubai. It’s a lie and I don’t have an account thereat. I don’t externalise funds. That’s illegal. I do not partake in such illegal activities.”
Despite claiming the first family does not externalise funds, President Mugabe often takes one month leave every beginning of the year to enjoy an expensive holiday in the Far East with his children, son in law and his security personnel.
Grace has been criticised before for claiming at a rally in November 2015 she sometimes skipped meals while in her plush Borrowdale home in solidarity with millions of suffering Zimbabweans.