LOCAL Government minister July Moyo has sprung to the defence of businessman Ken Sharpe, who is accused of manipulating the country’s justice system to hang on to vast tracts of land he obtained in controversial circumstances from Harare City Council.
Moyo is a respondent in a case where Harare land developer George Katsimberis is challenging a deed of settlement between Sharpe’s Augur Investments, the Local Government ministry and council.
The settlement signed on May 28, 2019 protects Augur investments and its associates from prosecution in various cases involving the Harare land deals.
Katsimberis a fortnight ago approached the High Court challenging the immunity from prosecution granted to Sharpe and his personal assistant, Tatiana Aleshina through the settlement.
He wants the High Court to declare the settlement null and void so that those benefitting from it can be arraigned before the courts to answer to fraud charges.
Kastemberis also wants the High Court to nullify the actions taken by the prosecutor general and the City of Harare to withdraw charges against any person linked to Sharpe’s Augur Investments.
Moyo, who was cited as the second respondent in the application, which also sought to force acting prosecutor general Nelson Mutsonziwa to prosecute Sharpe or issue a certificate for private prosecution, has lodged an affidavit defending the settlement.
In the response filed on his behalf by the Local Government ministry’s acting permanent secretary Lameck Mudyiwa, Moyo said the deed of settlement was signed by the relevant parties to the cases which were before the courts.
“The matter was removed from the roll for reasons that the parties to the case had settled,” he said.
“The matter was not withdrawn from the court and the deed was duly registered with the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court is clear that there was an order by consent of the parties involved.
“The issues being raised have already been dealt with in the arbitral award and High Court.
“This application cannot purport to review the orders granted by the courts.”
Moyo claimed that Katsimberis, who is being prosecuted by the courts on allegations that he lied about securing building plans for a joint venture project with Sharpe’s Pokugara Properties, failed to establish how the deed of settlement was linked to him.
He said Katsimberis’ application should be dismissed.
Meanwhile, Aleshina accused Katsimberis of being “economical with the truth” and said the settlement does not affect the property developer in any way.
According to Harare North MP Norman Allan Markham Markham, who is also challenging the settlement, Harare town clerk Hosiah Chisango signed the settlement without full council approval and the deed was an instrument of the ‘land heist.’
Katsimberis insists that because of the immunity guaranteed by the settlement, Augur Investments and Pokugara have not been charged despite evidence that they committed fraud.
“The first respondent has not been charged with the said fraud, and I have always wondered why this was the case until I got gifted with the tripartite deed of settlement and other papers in my prosecution, where I noticed that at paragraph 6.7 of the same, the development project I am involved is mentioned as one of the properties belonging to the third respondent (Augur),” his High Court submissions read.
“Now the failure to prosecute the case of the fraud reported by me against the fifth respondent (Pokugara) and Ken Sharpe makes sense as it is covered by the immunity conferred by the agreement.”
He said the “blatantly unlawful” deed has deprived him of the protection of the criminal justice system.
On August 18, 2022, lawyers Warara and Associates, representing Katsimberis, wrote to the prosecutor general saying his client wanted his matter in which he is accusing K Sharpe of fraud to be dealt with “without further delay.”
Documents show that council was forced to withdraw fraud charges against Pokugara because of the deed of settlement.
Chisango was threatened to withdraw fraud charges against a Pokugara ex-director due to the deed of settlement.
The letters referred to Moyo, who was a signatory to the deed.