Fire and water
Tendai Kamhungira 12 February 2017
HARARE – A Mauritius-based company that was contracted to build the
Airport Road has dragged the City of Harare to court demanding 40,5665
hectares of land as compensation and payment for the job to construct the
controversial project, and in terms of the agreement between the two
In its High Court application, Kenneth Sharpe’s Augur Investments OU
(Augu) cited the City of Harare and Local Government minister Saviour
Kasukuwere as respondents, and this is the second issue in which the
parties have clashed in as many weeks.
According to the applicant, the trio entered into a partnership in June
2008 for the upgrading of the road from the Harare International Airport
to the intersection of Enterprise, and Robert Mugabe roads.
And when the agreements were hammered out, Augur was initially represented
by Oleksandr Sheremet, Tendai Mahachi for the Harare City Council and
Local Government’s Lazarus Chimba -and later Sharpe when the parties
signed an addendum in October 2008.
“The second defendant (Local Government ministry) signed the addendum as
it was agreed by the parties thereto that he would assist the first
defendant (Augur) by supplying State land to the first defendant to enable
it to pay the plaintiff in terms of the agreement,” said.
“It was a material term of the contract that the plaintiff would be paid
90 percent for the work done in the form of land sourced by the first
defendant from the second defendant,” the court heard.
According to its declarations, Augur says it had carried out all the
necessary work in terms of the agreement and the total value of those
projects were $3 042 489, 81.
“This translates to 40,5665 hectares of land in stand 654 Pomona Township
which is identified . . . to the addendum as Borrowdale State land and has
a value of $7,50 per square metre,” the company said.
Sharpe’s company says it had even presented invoices to the City of
Harare’s director of works Phillip Pfukwa, who then directed the town
clerk to effect payment in October 2014.
“Despite demand, defendant refuses to transfer 40,5665 hectares of
suitable land to the plaintiff notwithstanding that the first defendant
acknowledged that the plaintiff completed works with a monetary value
equivalent to 40, 5665 hectares and further approved the payment which has
not been effected to date,” the papers say.
“The payment is in the form of transferring land equivalent to the
monetary value of the work done, being 40, 5665 hectares,” it said.
However, Bernard Manyenyeni’s council has not yet responded to the
application, although it has entered an appearance to defend the matter.
Meanwhile, the dispute around a Pomona piece of land – forming part of the
tripartite arrangement and compensation package for Sharpe’s company – is
set to continue, as Kasukuwere’s ministry has signalled an intention to
appeal a High Court order for a return of the 250-hectare property to the
infrastructural investment firm.
This was after Justice Clement Phiri had ordered Chinese company XGMA and
the Urban Development Corporation, among several respondents, to stop the
unlawful parcelling of stands under 654 of Pomona Township, and that the
applicant must be given “peaceful and undisturbed possession of the land”.
According to the recent ruling, Augur had amply demonstrated its ownership
of the prime holding before the spoilation fracas, which also saw the
respondents bring ordered to bear the costs of the lawsuit.
While Kasukuwere and his Local Government officials are holding out that
the deal was corruptly concluded about seven or eight years ago, and
Sharpe’s firm had been informed of the government’s intention to repossess
its land after failing to complete the airport road, company director Mike
van Blerk said:
“As per the court papers, it is clear that the factual and contractual
position is that both the City of Harare and . . . Local Government owes
Augur money in the form of land which . . . together with the Chinese had
been carving up, and selling illegally and without prior knowledge or
consent of Augur.
“The position . . . is that Augur is owed money for work done, certified
and signed off by the City of Harare and the same land in dispute was paid
to Augur for the compensation . . .
“The contract went through many layers of approval including . . .
council, Cabinet and Parliament (to give it) national project status,” he
said, adding “the suggestion – some nine years later – that there were
irregularities is absurd”.
“For the record, it was checked by the anti corruption Commission and . .
. was all cleared.
“The city of Harare has not paid what it owes . . . and has failed to make
satisfactory arrangements . . . and because of the three-year prescription
period it became necessary for Augur to approach the courts,” Van Blerk
In the meantime, Sharpe has declined to comment on the issues, saying the
matters were sub judice.