Harare - Despite denials by the Zimbabwean government, official documents prove it launched an action in a Hong Kong court to claim ownership of an apartment there for President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
A Writ of Summons issued by the Hong Kong High Court on January 27 demands that the present owner, Hsieh Ping-Sung, surrender the property to the Zimbabwe government.
A South African citizen and Grace’s former business partner, Hsieh is known in Joburg as Jack Ping.
The summons, which Independent Newspapers has a copy of, demands that Ping acknowledge that he is only holding the three-storey apartment in trust for the Zimbabwe government.
After a report about the government’s summons was published in the South China Morning Post, Zimbabwe’s deputy foreign affairs minister Christopher Mutsvangwa denied any government involvement with the writ.
“We have nothing of that sort in our office, and I cannot comment on that because I do not see anything foreign about that,” Mutsvangwa told NewZimbabwe.com.
It now turns out that the foreign affairs department rented the flat eight months ago for one of its diplomats in Hong Kong but the rent allegedly remains unpaid.
The property, in Hong Kong’s New Territories, was originally bought in 2008 by a property company, Cross Global, allegedly representing Mugabe and Ping. Apparently for tax reasons it was transferred to Ping two years later.
The flat was purchased for about R50 million.
There has never been an explanation of how Grace found the money at a time when Zimbabwe said it had no foreign currency even for food imports, and supermarkets were empty.
Nor is there any explanation of why the Zimbabwe government and not Grace is asking the court for ownership of the property.
The Zimbabwe government has hired ONC Lawyers in Hong Kong to handle its claim against Ping.
Ping’s SA lawyer, Mannie Witz, said yesterday the Zimbabwe government rented the flat from June but failed to pay the deposit or rental of about R114 000 a month.