By A Correspondent| A company that was subcontracted by Ken Sharpe’s Augur Investments to construct the Harare Airport Road has moved to block one of the fugitive businessman’s firms from selling residential stands in the capital’s Pomona area arguing that the land is part of a payment deal for the controversial project.
Fairclot Investments, trading as Trucking and Construction Pvt Ltd, approached the Harare High Court seeking to stop the transfer of land to Doorex Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Augur until a dispute involving the piece of land is resolved.
The company also wants Augur to stop advertising, selling and transfer of stands from stand 654 Pomona Township measuring 273 299 hectares.
On March 26, 2013, Fairclot was subcontracted by Augur Investments to construct the Airport Road after Sharpe’s company was controversially picked to lead the project on May 30, 2008, without going to tender.
Fairclot, however, terminated the deal after only doing 2.7km of the 10km road because of a payment dispute with Augur.
Under the agreement, Augur was supposed to construct the Airport Road with an understanding that 90% of the costs would be paid in the form of land and 10% in cash.
The title deeds for the land that was identified for the deal were supposed to be kept by a private law firm until the council approved the road project.
Augur went on to subcontract Fairclot, which stopped work on the road after due to non-payment.
The dispute was temporarily solved after “Augur pledged as security stand 654, Pomona Township measuring 273 299 hectares of state land.”
“Title deeds for the land were kept by lawyers Messers Coghlan, Welsh and Guest legal practitioners as security for the payment by the first respondent (Augur) of all its indebtedness to the plaintiff (Fairclot),” part of papers filed by the company at the High Court on June 14 read.
Fairclot, who are represented by Mutumbwa Mugabe Legal practitioners, was owed US$4,8 million from which US$3,250 500 was payable in cash and US$1 459 500 was to be paid in form of land or equivalent cash value.
Despite an arbitration award, Augur has not paid its dues to Fairclot.
Augur claims it has settled the outstanding amount in RTGS after the enactment of SI133/2019 in February 2019.
In 2013, the Harare City Council was forced to cancel Augur’s Airport Road contract due to non-performance, but by that time, a lot of land had already been transferred to Sharpe’s firm.
Augur demanded a 35% termination fee, which was identified as the Pomona land measuring 40 665 hectares.
The High Court then granted an award of $3 million in favour of Augur which was successfully challenged by the local authority.
Augur appealed and before the matter was heard, a tripartite deed of settlement between Local Government minister July Moyo, Augur and Harare City Council was signed.
The controversial settlement gave Sharpe rights to the land and shielded him from prosecution.
Sharpe immediately illegally moved the stand to Doorex Pvt Ltd, knowing very well that the title deed and is still held in escrow by Coghlan, Welsh and Guest. Doorex started selling stands forcing Fairclot to erect a billboard warning unsuspecting home seekers against buying the stands.
Augur, represented by Tatiana Aleshina, in return, got Fairclot director and the company that was contracted to erect the billboard arrested and charged with criminal nuisance.
The application to stop the sale of land and challenge the upliftment of a judicial attachment of land by the sheriff of the High Court was placed before a former judge, Justice Faith Mushure in 2020.
Mushure reserved judgment and the ruling is yet to be delivered three years on while Augur continues to sell the land to the unsuspecting public
Fairclot director Grant Tilling Rusell has now gone back to the High Court demanding the setting aside of the deed of settlement that gave Augur the right to the land and stops selling of the stands until the dispute is resolved.
“The applicant (Fairclot) is approaching this honourable court seeking an interdict against the respondent (Augur) to halt the advertisement and alienation of the land on stand 654 Pomona Township held under Deed of Grant Number 2884/10,” part of the High Court application reads.
Rusell claimed Fairclot will suffer irretrievable prejudice if the interlocutory interdict is not granted because Augur will continue selling the land that does not belong to it.
He said he tried to persuade the public not to buy the stands through a billboard, which was pulled down and he was charged with public nuisance.
“Evidently, the allegation of public nuisance is frivolous and is meant to hide from the public the fact that stand number 654 Pomona is reg litigiosa,” Russel said in his founding affidavit.
Several cases challenging the deed of settlement signed by July Moyo before have flooded the courts.
Harare North MP Norman Markham has also challenged the settlement and exposed a grand land heist triggered by the deed.
Last month, prominent Harare land developer George Katsimberis has also approached the High Court seeking to have the criminal immunity granted to Augur Investments, a company reportedly registered in Ukraine, Estonia or Mauritius with extensive interests in Zimbabwe withdrawn arguing that violates provisions of the constitution.
Katsimberis is also seeking to compel prosecutor general Nelson Mutsonziwa to prosecute Moyo, Augur Investments and its representative Aleshina as well as another company owned by Sharpe, Pokugara Properties who are cited as the second, third, fourth and fifth respondents, respectively.
Katsimberis is pursuing private prosecution of Sharpe and his associates.