Is She Above The Law? Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe Dodges Summons

By Dana Sanchez Published: December 19, 2016, 2:09 pm
Grace Mugabe dodges summonsPresident Robert Mugabe and first lady Grace Mugabe. Photo: EPA/Siphiwe Sibeko/eNCA

No one at the home of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is willing to receive a summons on behalf of First Lady Grace Mugabe in a lawsuit filed against her over a $1.4 million diamond ring purchased from a Dubai diamond dealer, News24 reported.

Well-known Dubai-based diamond dealer, Jamal Ahmed, filed suit at the High Court in Harare, claiming Grace took over three of his properties in Harare in October after he sold her a diamond ring, according to Independent Online.

Ahmed claims Grace changed her mind after buying the ring and demanded a refund. She paid for the ring from her Zimbabwe bank account, but asked to be repaid in Dubai, Ahmed said in an affidavit.

Security staff at the Mugabe residence, State House in Harare, have twice refused to accept a summons, Ahmed said.

Questions about Grace’s “externalisation of funds” went unanswered from John Mangudya, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, according to Independent Online.

Grace bought a rough diamond from Ahmed which he polished and had set for her, TVC News reported. She paid for it from her Zimbabwe account at the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe.

But Grace returned the ring and demanded a full refund to her bank in Dubai.
Hamed said three properties he owns in Harare plus several commercial vehicles were seized by Grace’s oldest son.

Hamed’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, filed suit to have the properties returned.

Hamed said he tried to negotiate with Grace, News24 reported. He incurred costs in polishing and setting the diamond. He said any refund would have to be made to her Harare bank account because of foreign currency regulations.

He said that in October, three of his Harare properties were seized by Stanley Goreraza, Grace’s oldest son from her first marriage, and Grace’s bodyguard, Kennedy Fero. Workers living on the properties were evicted, he said.

Hamed’s lawyer, Mtetwa, sued to force Grace, her son and bodyguard to return the properties.

President Robert Mugabe, 92, is immune from prosecution while in office, but his wife Grace does not have that privilege, News24 reported:

Many Zimbabwe lawyers would not risk taking on Grace, but the diamond ring case is the second time Mtetwa has gone head-to-head with the first lady.

Five years ago, four South African drivers were arrested in Harare after they delivered several commercial vehicles to Grace in Harare.

The vehicles were bought by Mugabe for her son Russell Goreraza.

Mtetwa secured them bail. But the drivers, allegedly suspicious of Zimbabwe’s justice system, skipped bail and returned home to South Africa.

Grace’s diamond ring change-of-heart may or may not represent buyer’s remorse.

It’s part of a $7.1 million US spending spree that the first lady has recently embarked on, IOL reported. Ordinary Zimbabweans have to wait in line for hours at Zimbabwean banks as the country tries to deal with a crippling cash shortage.

So it’s not clear where she’s getting the money from while the country teeters on the brink of economic collapse.

In addition to the diamond ring, Mugabe has spent millions buying new properties, and she’s building expensive private schools, according to IOL:

Zimbabweans, including some within the ruling Zanu-PF, are embarrassed by (Grace), 51, because there is no rational explanation for the source of her R100 million ($7.1 million US) spending spree.

Among her recent “shopping” was a spectacular diamond, a massive property in the heart of Harare’s richest suburb, a luxury villa and construction of the most expensive private schools in the country.

There is no information about how she generated income to accommodate her purchases, nor how she will pay off an overdraft, estimated at about R280m (almost $20 million US). And some suggest she has accounts at the state-owned post office bank (Zimbabwe Post Office Savings bank) and one other small, privately owned bank.

Many are shocked that Mugabe recently paid more than R60m ($4.3 million US) for a property of about 48.5 hectares (120 acres)  in the heart of Borrowdale, about 15 km north of Harare close to the mansion which the first family built for about R140m (almost $10 million US), and where they choose to live rather than in the smaller, colonial era State House.

The Teede family who sold their Borrowdale property to a company controlled by Mugabe did not want to discuss the sale of their land.

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said: “The Teedes probably decided to sell their home and land to Grace Mugabe because they feared she would take it if they refused. We understand Grace Mugabe wants this property to develop many upmarket homes in a security estate.”

Mugabe is also spending several million rand building a complex of private schools, known in the area as the Amai (Mother) Grace Mugabe Schools, near Mazowe village about 20km west of Harare. The schools are built on land taken, without payment, from an old white couple 15 years ago and are housed in three double-story blocks.

 

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