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Ken Sharpe is Zimbabwe's greatest land heist, says Tendai Biti

by Staff reporter
13 Oct 2022 at 06:04hrs | Views
Politician-cum-lawyer, Tendai Biti has implicated controversial businessman Ken Sharpe in what he said was the greatest land heist in the history of post- independent Zimbabwe.

Sharpe owns Augur Investments which entered into two shady land deals with the Harare City Council, thereby prejudicing the capital of vast tracts of land.

Biti, who was testifying at the Harare Magistrate Court in a case where he is accused of verbally assaulting Sharpe's business partner, Tatiana Aleshina, said he was a victim of her manipulations through the use of connections in the highest office in the country.

"She is the mastermind of the prosecution against me," said Biti.

According to the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) official, Aleshina has been involved in a series of land grab scandals through Augur Investment OU, a company she fronts.

In 2007, the company entered into an agreement with Harare City Council (HCC) to form a firm called Sunshine Development, with initial provision saying Augur would deposit US$30 million into the capital bank of the proposed organisation.

Augur would get 70percent of shares in the joint venture company.

Augur Investment is said to have deferred from depositing the money into the account, but took away land and transferred it to several shelf companies.

In 2008, the two organisations reportedly entered into another agreement for the construction of airport road.

In the provisions of the second agreement, council agreed to avail land to Augur Investment in return for the construction of the road.

According to Biti, Augur did not live up to the agreed terms of the contract, but went ahead and claimed the land from the local authority.

Instead, Augur is said to have subcontracted Fairclot in 2013, which withdrew all its equipment and stopped work on the road after doing just 2, 7km of the 10km due to non-payment.

"The government of Zimbabwe in May 2014 cancelled the agreement between the City of Harare and Augur Investment OU for construction of the Harare airport road due to non-performance of Augur Investment and their associates," Biti said.

According to the agreement, the company would be paid 90 percent of the cost in the form of land, while the remaining 10 percent would be in form of cash.

"Despite the fact that they did not perform, up until that time they had been given thousands of hectares of land, the complainant who was right at the centre then demanded additional land as a penalty against City of Harare," he added.

Part of the land that was used to pay Augur Investments was stand 654, Pomona Township measuring 273 299 hectares of State land with title deeds, which were supposed to be kept by a private law firm —Coghlan, Welsh and Guest (CWG) — until the Harare City Council approved the road project.

They renegotiated the deal and Augur gave the Pomona stand as security. The title deed of the land was kept in escrow by CWG.

The trial is set to resume October 18.

Source - Newsday Zimbabwe
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