Million-dollar ring saga: Zim First Lady Grace Mugabe goes to court

Harare - Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe is still battling to be repaid more than a million US dollars she claims to have lost to a Lebanese businessman in a botched diamond ring deal.

The First Lady's lawyers filed papers at the Harare High Court on Tuesday, according to state media.

An 'inferior ring'

Grace Mugabe claims to have paid Lebanese businessman, Jamal Joseph Ahmed $1.35 million dollars for a diamond ring in 2015, but was supplied with an "inferior ring" worth just $30 000.

She alleges that Ahmed has only paid back $120 000. Now she wants the court to target his Zimbabwean properties and business interests if he doesn't settle the debt.

"Despite repeated demand, the defendant (Ahmed) has neglected and failed to refund the full amount. The plaintiff has no other remedy but to seek redress from this Honourable Court," said the state-run Herald, citing the court documents. 

Until now, state media has avoided reporting on the story, which was extensively covered by the private press in late 2016 and early 2017.

Worsening economic crisis

Having details of the ring purchase once more in the public eye could prove damaging to the First Family, who have been criticised for their alleged extravagance in the face of a worsening economic crisis and cash crunch.

Zimbabweans are struggling to withdraw as little as $20 per day from banks, and this week the agriculture minister ordered a ban on the importation of fruit and vegetables to save scarce foreign currency.

Despite these growing hardships faced by ordinary people, Grace Mugabe has in recent weeks reportedly acquired prime properties in Harare and Johannesburg, while her son by a first marriage is alleged to have imported two Rolls-Royce limousines last month.

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