LEBANESE businessman Jamal Ahmed, who is entangled in a US$1,35 million diamond ring wrangle with First Lady Grace Mugabe, has approached the Supreme Court challenging a recent judgment by Judge President George Chiweshe which overturned a High Court order granting him authority to retain his properties seized by the president’s wife.
By Charles Laiton
Ahmed is currently out of the country after the First Lady allegedly threatened him with unspecified action following his refusal to reverse the ring purchase agreement entered between the parties.
The dispute arose after Grace placed an order for a diamond ring from Ahmed in 2015 after which she instructed CBZ Bank to transfer US$1,35 million into the businessman’s account in the United Arab Emirates. The transfer was made in May 2016 but in court documents, Ahmed says the First Lady refused to accept the ring when it was tendered “and instead demanded a full refund in Dubai”.
Grace then grabbed Ahmed’s three properties cited in court papers as house numbers 409 Harare Drive, Pomona, Harare, 18 Cambridge Road Avondale, Harare, and 75 King George Road Avondale, Harare, in an attempt to force him to pay the sum in question.
High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri in December last year issued a provisional court order, compelling Grace and her son, Russel Goreraza, to vacate three properties seized from Ahmed.
Grace refused to comply with the court order, resulting in Ahmed, through his lawyers, Mtetwa and Nyambirai, seeking a final order from the High Court. The case was heard by Chiweshe, who in a judgment delivered last month overturned Phiri’s judgment, arguing it was issued in error.
In his judgement Justice Chiweshe said: “A careful consideration of the circumstances of this case leads to the inevitable conclusion that the order in question was granted in error. The judge (Phiri J) and both parties (Ahmed and his companies and Grace and her son) were under the impression that a provisional order and not a final order had been granted … I am satisfied that the order of Phiri J, having been erroneously sought and erroneously issued must be set aside….”
Chiweshe’s determination then prompted Ahmed’s lawyers to approach the Supreme Court, arguing the Judge President had no jurisdiction to overturn his subordinate’s judgment.
“The learned judge president (Justice Chiweshe) erred in law and in fact in finding that under Rule 449 (10)(a) of the High Court Rules, he had the jurisdiction to set aside the final spoliation order granted by Phiri J on December 21 2016,” Ahmed’s lawyers said.
“The learned judge president erred in law and in fact to find that the only remedy available to the respondents was to appeal the spoliation order to the Supreme Court and also erred in law and in fact in holding mero motu that the order of Phiri J had been erroneously sought and erroneously granted and further, in failing to refer the matter to Phiri J to determine whether he had been misled.”
The lawyers also submitted that Chiweshe erred in law and in fact in holding that Ahmed and his firms (Thatchfree Investments, Super Earth and Itchester Investments) had proceeded with their High Court matter in the absence of Grace, her son and one Kennedy Fero, when the latter were duly represented by their legal practitioners at the hearing after being denied a postponement.
They also accused Justice Chiweshe of erring both in law and in fact by failing to grant their clients a prohibitory interdict as final relief on the return day when all the requirements had been met.
The lawyers requested the Supreme Court to order that: “The respondents and all those claiming through them forthwith vacate the premises known as numbers, 409 Harare Drive, Pomona, Harare, number 18 Cambridge Road Avondale, Harare, and number 75 King George Road, Avondale in Harare and be ordered to pay costs of suit.”
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.