Council to engage Zacc to investigate botched land deals

Harare City Council has resolved to take its employees, Harare business mogul, Ken Sharp and his investment vehicle, Augur Investment to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) over how council lost its land in numerous botched land deals.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

Council on Wednesday resolved to engage the anti-graft body to investigate the deals it had entered into with Augur Investment between 2008 and 2014 for the construction of Airport Road, but failed to deliver.

Minutes from the business committee stated that council was taking a criminal route to deal with the Augur Investment issue after the business consortium dragged the local authority to court for terminating the contract to construct Airport Road.

“Your worship, I move that this matter be referred to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate. As council, our officials slept on duty and allowed this kind of corruption to take place,” Councillor Denford Ngadziore (MDC-Alliance) said and was seconded by Ian Makone.

“So we are taking this matter to Zacc? Are we all in agreement?” Mayor Herbert Gomba asked as other councillors’ responded in the positive.

Augur Investments, with property interests in Zimbabwe, was contracted to construct a road from town to the Robert Mugabe International Airport, but the deal was cancelled after the company failed to deliver.

In turn, Augur sued council for $68 million, but an arbitrator ruled against the company before council approached the High Court to register the arbitral award, but it was challenged.

Besides taking the matter to Zacc, council also referred it to the audit committee for further investigation on how and why council employees approved layout plans for Augur Investments projects which were part of the Airport Road deal after council had terminated the contract.

Augur according to minutes, is also demanding $94 million as damages for breach of contract and $3 million as labour for work it had done on the Airport Road before the deal was terminated.

Details of the Airport Road deal entailed that council was to give Augur Investment land for investment in the road works. The company was expected to enter into several joint venture projects with council among them the People’s Market at Mbudzi roundabout and construction of a shopping mall.