Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is facing flak over his wife Grace Mugabe’s love for expensive jewelry after it emerged that the first lady had splurged $1.4 million on a diamond ring at a time when the country’s poor were languishing in hunger.

According to an urgent application lodged in the Harare High Court this week, Lebanese diamond dealer Jamal Ahmed filed a complaint against the controversial first lady, who he said bought the gem from him in Dubai last year. The money was paid through Mugabe’s Harare bank account but when the ring was sent to the president’s wife, she refused to accept it and demanded a full refund into her bank account in Dubai.

Ahmed, however, said he did not wish to break Zimbabwe’s law on externalization of funds and attempted to negotiate a plan and refund what cash he could, in installments via the Harare bank account, which reportedly led to the seizure of the diamond dealer’s three Harare properties by Russell Goreraza, Mugabe’s son from her first marriage.

Ahmed has since approached the local courts to seek legal protection.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) secretary general Gorden Moyo told NewZimbabwe.com that the first lady must be wary of the public watching her moves: “This is gluttonous politics surpassing the evil of biblical Sodom and Gomorrah.”

“Her (Grace’s) insatiable appetite for vanity is only comparable to Ferdinand Marcos’ wife. She should however be warned that the people are watching,” Moyo added, drawing comparisons with the former Philippines dictator’s spouse.

Mugabe, 51, has emerged as a front-runner to succeed her husband, who is 92 years old, as president. Critics claim that the Mugabes have set up accounts outside the country where they stash wealth that they have amassed by looting Zimbabwe’s vast resources. The allegations have not been proven.