MATTER OF FACTS
Following the circulation of recent statements by Mr Biti concerning Augur Investments and its operations in Zimbabwe, we wish to set the record straight and correct any such ludicrous claims by Mr Biti.
The relationship between Augur Investments OU and the City of Harare dates back to 2007 with the common and shared vision for the development of the City of Harare and in particular the upgrading of the Joshua Mqabuko NkomoExpressway (Airport Highway Road). The major highlights of the events leading to the projects are shown below:
▪ A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Augur Investments OU and the City of Harare in June 2007 and consequently a Shareholders Agreement was signed between Augur Investments OU and City of Harare in September 2007.
▪ The initial request from the City of Harare was for the construction of the Airport Highway through the Mukuvisi Corridor, from Dieppe Road to Enterprise Road, be part of the Joint Venture project. However it was established that the ownership of the Highway would then become the property of Sunshine Developments P/L which was not possible as well as the estimated cost being too great for the Joint Venture.
▪ Subsequently in February 2008, in negotiations with the City of Harare, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Local Government, Augur was invited to finance, design and construct the Airport Highway in its entirety, from the Harare Main Airport to Enterprise Road. Such special relationship was sanctioned by Council through its Resolution of 29th May 2008 and Council resolved to pay Augur Investments OU through transfer with suitable land for the works done on the Airport Road Highway construction.
▪ Presidential and Cabinet approval was granted and presentations were made in March and April 2008, highlighting Sunshine Developments P/L, Joint Venture projects as well as the Airport Highway Route.
▪ The Airport Highway Memorandum of Understanding and subsequent Memorandum of Agreement were signed in May and June 2008 respectively.
▪ The Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) on 29 August 2008 had approved the Sunshine Developments Pvt Ltd JV entity between Augur Investments and City of Harare under certificate number 000334.
It is thus untrue for Mr Biti or anyone to assert that the Airport Road Contract was an illegality as the Road project was sanctioned by both City of Harare and the Government of Zimbabwe which on the 5th of May 2009, the Permanent Secretary of Local Government, Rural & Urban Development wrote to advise Augur that Cabinet had granted National Project Status for the Airport Highway Project. Hence the project was endorsed by both Council and the Government in which Mr Biti was serving at that material time as the Minister of Finance.
In any particular country, Zimbabwe included there is nothing illegal for City Council and government to collaborate with private business players in the development of the country.
It is important to highlight that in 2009, Augur Investments OU sought the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s authority to acquire 100% shareholding in its Zimbabwean subsidiaries and such authority was granted in 2009 by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The RBZ wrote to Augur that:
“We write to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 03 September, 2009 and advise that Exchange Control is agreeable to the applicant acquiring 100 percent of west Property Company and 100 percent share of shelf companies”.
It is important to highlight that Augur Investments OU has complied with the laws of Zimbabwe and any regulatory processes have been duly followed and Mr Biti is put to the strictest of proof to substantiate his baseless utterances.
It is untrue for anyone to allege that Augur was not registeredor licensed to operate in Zimbabwe.
The Minister of Justice approved the registration of Augur Investment as a foreign company to operate in Zimbabwe as per Section 330 of the then Companies Act Chapter 24:14 and a certificate to that effect was issued in 2009 and 2012 respectively. Augur Investments is duly authorised to operate in Zimbabwe as evidenced by a Certificate of Registration as a Foreign Company issued by the Registrar of Companies on the 3rd of May 2010.
We refute claims that our payments of land by the City of Harare were fraudulent. Once Augur completed the works on the road, Interim Payment Certificates were duly generated and submitted for assessment through an agreed independent engineering evaluator for assessment. Once such assessments were done, such IPC was then sent to the City of Harare for payment of the prorate portion of the land. Proof of such interim payment certificates exists both with the Council and with Government departments. Hence it is malicious and false to allege that we acquired the land illegally. In simple terms, we were paid for the works that we duly completed.
It is within the public realm that Government cancelled the Airport Road Highway contract and we litigated the matter and we managed to amicably resolve the matters through a Deed of Settlement that was subsequently registered into an order of the Supreme Court under SC878/19 and as a High Court Order under HC4528/19. It is normal practice for parties in litigation to settle and such settlements are accepted by the Courts. Hence there exists no basis for anyone to allege that the settlement was an illegality when such settlement was done with the blessing and full consent of the parties in litigation.
Whilst Mr Biti would want to create sensational stories without basis, we reiterate that our developments are fully compliant with the Environmental and urban Planning Laws.
The Environmental Management Agency granted the environmental impact assessment certificate in 2012 for the development of the Borrowdale West Millennium Park to develop shops, housing, medical centre and related infrastructure. All other developments currently being carried out by the company have EIA certificates and are in compliance with environmental and town planning laws statutes.
While malicious attempts have been made by Mr Biti to divest control of our properties through numerous litigation challenging our title to our Pomona Land, the matter has been litigated to its natural conclusion by the Supreme Court in Allan Markharm v Augur Investments Case Number SC 229/22 wherein Mr Biti’s clients lost the matter and were ordered to pay costs of suit to us. The High Court under HC 425/21 had ruled in our favour as well. Hence there exists no basis for anyone to challenge our title to our Pomona land as it was paid to us for work done on the Airport Highway Project.
We reiterate that the land that we legally acquired is being improved through provision of on and offsite infrastructure such as roads, water, wastewater and storm water drains.
The people who have for long not been able to access serviced land are now getting value added land for residential and commercial developments. In this regard, we are contributing significantly to the infrastructural development of Zimbabwe and the developed land will serve generations to come and ensure that our people enjoying maximum benefits through such infrastructural development.
We remain committed to partnering with both Council, Government and other key private players in developing land for our people and ensuring that we help create sustainable communities where our people can work, live, play and shop.