What $1.4 million can get you- a ring for Grace Mugabe!



“Win and let win” runs the tagline for Jamal Joseph Hamed’s diamond business, the largest gem trader in the United Arab Emirates by his reckoning.

By no means a name readily recognisable in Zimbabwe, where he also operates a generator supply business, apart from buying diamonds, Hamed forced his way into Zimbabweans’ consciousness with a bombshell: he sold President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, a diamond worth $1.35 million for their anniversary.

On a day when yet another national budget presentation left crisis-weary Zimbabweans feeling nothing like winners, Hamed’s revelation, in a December 7 affidavit deposed in Antwerp, darkened the mood of a populace struggling to find where the government’s latest tax would leave them.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa proposed a 5 percent tax on airtime to fund public health.

Hamed is in a nasty fight with Mrs Mugabe after their $1.35 million diamond deal went sour.

According to Hamed’s legal papers, Mrs Mugabe placed an order for a $1.35 million 10 carat diamond in April 2015, instructing her bank to transfer that amount to the diamond dealer in Dubai.

“The second respondent (Mrs Mugabe) placed an order for a diamond with my daughter in Dubai, which she indicated her husband wanted to buy her for their anniversary,” Hamed deposed in an affidavit in a case he is suing the first lady, her son Russell and an aide, Kennedy Fero for invading three of his Harare properties in a bid to force him to reverse the diamond deal.

The transfer was done in May 2016, more than a year after the initial order and by which time the Reserve Bank Zimbabwe, alarmed by a worsening United States dollar shortage in the country, had issued a priority list banks need to adhere to before approving payments.

According to the RBZ regulations, the “importation of trinkets, low local content consumer goods and or goods or services readily available in Zimbabwe including non-commercial vehicles, maheu, bottled water, vegetables” are not priority as it seeks more efficient use of scarce foreign currency.

However, according to Hamed, the deal with Mrs Mugabe soon took and awkward turn.

“The transfer was ultimately done in May 2016 and the diamond was tendered to the second respondent (Mrs Mugabe) in Dubai,” Hamed wrote.

“Surprisingly, the second respondent refused to take delivery of the diamond and instead demanded a full refund in Dubai.”

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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