Former chairperson of the commission appointed to run the affairs of City of Harare between 2006 and 2013, Michael Mahachi, appeared in court on Saturday charged with criminal abuse of office after he corruptly contracted his company to manage the $80 million Airport Road rehabilitation project.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Mahachi (66) was not asked to plead when he appeared before magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa, who remanded him in custody to November 30.
In denying him bail, Mugwagwa said Mahachi was a flight risk and could flee the country if given bail as he faced a serious offence.
She further said since Mahachi’s company was involved in the case, chances were he could tamper with the evidence to weaken the State’s case.
The complainant in the matter is the City of Harare represented by town clerk Hosiah Chisango.
Mahachi was appointed as commissioner by former Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.
Allegations are that on May 21, 2008, City of Harare entered into a memorandum of understanding with a then unregistered Augur Investments to upgrade the airport road.
On May 30, 2008, Mahachi entered into another memorandum of understanding with the same company, purportedly now indicating to be based in Ukraine.
The directors of Augur Investments were listed as Kenneth Sharpe and Michael van Blerk.
The project was allegedly valued at $80 million and the terms of the agreement were that City of Harare was to provide pieces of land and service materials equivalent to 90% of the project value and 10% of project value was to be paid to Augur Investments in cash at the prevailing exchange rate.
The project was allegedly divided into four phases and was to be completed by 2010.
The parties further agreed that the title deeds of the property of pieces of land in Gunhill were to be held in trust by Messrs Coghlan Welsh and Guest.
It is the State’s case that Mahachi corruptly caused his company, Classique Project Management, to manage the project without disclosing to his principal, the Local Government minister, that he had a personal interest and was one of the directors.
Classique Project Management was allegedly paid for its management services by the City of Harare, but Augur Investments did not complete the project despite having been paid in full.
It is alleged the City of Harare suffered an actual prejudice in the form of the land that was transferred to Augur Investments valued at over $80 million.
Mahachi, in his capacity as the commission chairperson for the City of Harare, is also accused together with his accomplices, who are yet to be arrested, of corruptly awarding the contract to Augur Investments without going to tender.
Augur Investments was registered in Zimbabwe three years later after being awarded the contract.
It is alleged Augur Investments had no capacity to carry out the project, hence government’s decision to withdraw and hand it over to the Department of Roads.
Michael Reza appeared for the State.
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