By Anyway Yotamu
HARARE –Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo has been dragged to court to explain a secret land deal described as “mother of all frauds” with controversial Ukrainian basesd businessman Kenneth Raydon Sharpe well known as Ken Sharpe after a Harare MP and two others went to court to get the deal reversed.
Outspoken MDC Alliance Member of Parliament for Harare North Constituency Allan Norman Markham, is one of the applicants who want the land deal between City of Harare and controversial businessman Ken Sharpe apparently forced through by local government minister and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s right hand man July Moyo to be reversed on the grounds that it was not only illegal but a “grand theft” of land belonging to the people of Zimbabwe.
The deal which involved 274 hectares / 2 740 000 square meters of prime land in Harare’s leaf area of Pomona. The land in question is worth US$205 million, but was allegedly undervalued to a mere US$20 million, the value on contract is US$7,50 per square metre.
According to Court Application seen by The Harare Times filed on the 10 th of March 2021 reviewed that after a series of litigations between the City of Harare and Sharpe’s Augur Investments represented by Russian lady Tatiana Aleshina, a secret Deed of Settlement was executed on May 28, 2018, at the behest of Moyo who also claimed he had President Mnangagwa’s directive. Former Harare Mayor Herbert Gomba and Josiah Abraham Chisango town clerk, signed for the local authority and Tatiana Aleshina signed on behalf of Augur Investments.
Moyo and Aleshina are being cited as the 3rd and 6th respondents in the court application filled by former ward 18 councilor now an MP for Harare North .
The deal gave Sharpe’s Augur Investments dubious and illegal immunity from litigation over disputed vast tracts of of prime land he acquired through the the controversial “unfinished” Airport Road Construction project.
There is no evidence to suggest that Sharpe paid for the land he was given by Harare City Council.
As the local authority was trying to regain the land through the courts, Local government Minister July Moyo and Augur Investments front runner Tatiana Aleshina are representing themselves and President Mnangagwa, signed a secret Deed of settlement offering Augur Investments and its associated companies, directors and representatives immunity from past, present and future deals over the land by the government, council or any third parties.
The deal was initially signed without the knowledge of the full council , Gomba and Chisango was not authorised to sign it on behalf of the local authority, lawyers for Allan Markhan, Jacob Pikicha ahousing activist and the Tavonga Savings Scheme says that.
The Deed of Settlement partly reads: “Upon signature of this Deed of Settlement, the Minister (July Moyo), City of Harare and Augur Investments represented by Tatiana Aleshina undertake to withdraw all and any legal actions and proceedings, both civil, criminal, pending against each other before the courts.
“The minister undertakes to instruct the Coghlan, Welsh and Guest to release the title deeds to stand number 654 Pomona Township to Augur Investments. Immediately thereafter, the Minister and/or the President shall sign all and any documents necessary to facilitate and effect the transfer of the said stand to Augur or its nominee, Doorex Properties within 14 days.
“The City of Harare guarantees that it has the requisite authority to sign this Deed of Settlement. The minister (July Moyo) warrants that he has the requisite authority from the Government of Zimbabwe and the President to sign this Deed of Settlement as well as all the necessary documents involved in the transfer of Stand 654 Pomona Township to Augur.
“Further to the above the above, the ministry and COH, in the spirit of Zimbabwe being open for business and to support Augur in its continued investments, undertake, subject to statutory compliance, to expedite the issuance of all and any necessary licences and permits to Augur and its related companies for any of its developments which it is carrying out in Harare.”
Augur has been allocated nearly 700 hectares of land in Harare, sparking dozens of legal disputes which are before the Courts.
The secret Deed of Settlement was reached after City of Harare won several cases against Sharpe but the businessman then went for arbitration where Justice November Mutshiya ordered that Augur be compensated to the tune of US$15 million. The City of Harare appealed and won again at the High Court.
This prompted Augur Investments to approach the Supreme Court but they withdrew the case and before the council knew what was happening, a Deed of Settlement was signed with the parties claiming that they had reached a resolution.
Markhan, Tavonga Savings Scheme and Pikicha argue that the Deed of Settlement is not only illegal but a clear case of theft of prime council land.
In their affidavit, the three applicants want an order that the Deed of Settlement be set aside citing a number of reasons. The affidavit partly reads: “The signatories to that agreement namely Herbert Gomba and Hosiah Chisango (COH), who purported to act on behalf of the City of Harare did not have any authority from the City of Harare. The honourable Minister July Moyo lacked authority from the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Deed of Settlement itself is against the public policy of Zimbabwe, it being founded on illegal and extremely corrupt set of facts.”
They want an order “setting aside the transfer of the property covered in the Deed of Settlement to the 7th respondent (Doorex Properties) being a certain 273,2 hectares of land called Stand 654 Pomona Township.”
The applicants also want the original agreement between the City of Harare and Augur for the development of the Harare Airport Road declared null and void on the basis that besides the illegal signatures on the Deed of Settlement, the deal did not go through tender and did not comply with Zimbabwe’s Investment laws. They say in any case, the deal conditions were never fulfilled.
They added: “Further the agreement represented a complete fraud, a massive land heist against the people of Zimbabwe. The Deed of Settlement is also a nullity because the agreement contained provisions that purport to grant criminal immunity to Augur Investments and its associates. To that extent, it is an agreement that offends the laws of Zimbabwe and in any event it’s an agreement contra to public morality.
“There is no other reasonable explanation as to why the Deed of Settlement was signed other than corruption and an attempt to deceive the residents of Harare and the people of Zimbabwe”, read Court Applications.
The respondents are Augur Investments 1st respondent, Kenneth Raydon Sharpe 2nd respondent, Tatiana Aleshina 3rd respondent, Michael John Van Blerk 4th respondent, City of Harare 5th respondent, Minister of Local government and National housing 6th respondent, Doorex Properties Pvt LTD 7th respondent Register of Deeds 8th respondent and The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe as the 9 the respondent.
The respondents have been saved with court application but are yet to file the responses.
Meanwhile Minister Moyo and Aleshina recently in another case before the Courts they’re being accused of name dropping ‘for using President Mnangagwa’s name’ by a Harare land developer George Katsimberis over Pokugara Estate in Borrowdale.
Makham in his Court application described businessman Sharpe and Tatiana as serious land barons who owns extensive land in Harare.