Fish rots from the head – Land Baron Ken Sharpe Blast Mnangagwa

By Staff Reporter

HARARE – ‘Land baron’ Ken Sharpe has described the infrastructural decay in the country as an indication of the rot in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s governance.

Sharpe, a self-styled investor who haven’t built anything in the country, posted a video of himself touring Greenwood Park in Harare, pointing at some of the features in it and saying its poor state could only be blamed on poor administration by President Mnangagwa.

He called on President Mnangagwa’s administration responsible to own up to their failures.

Sharpe and his company are currently battling with several lawsuits and is facing a litany of charges before the Courts raging from fraud, corruption and land grabs before the Courts.

Pokugara Properties Pvt Ltd is one of the pieces of land, Sharpe received as payment for the construction of the Airport Road. Augur investments was supposed to ensure that the 15-kilometre road went from the Harare International Airport to Dieppe Road in Braeside suburb, before being extended up to the intersection of Robert Mugabe Road and Enterprise Road in the city. Augur Investments’ contributions barely surpassed 3km.

Sharpe initially pegged the total value of the project which covered less than 20 kilometres, at a staggering $80 million which ignited excessive speculation with councillors questioning why the project cost so much when a similar road project stretching 77 kilometres, done by the Zimbabwe Platinum Mines in Chegutu, was valued at $19 million.

Sharpe reportedly said Airport Road was more expensive than Ngezi Road because the latter was a rural road which used inferior construction material.

Contrarily, the Comptroller-General for the financial year ended December 2010, stated that the cost of constructing a road should not exceed US$500 000 per km.

Going forward, the then Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo terminated the contract and handed it over to the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) on the basis that government was unhappy with the project under Augur Investments.

A report conducted by the city council’s Special Lands Investigations Committee said Augur lacked the technical expertise to implement the project after it emerged that the company had no proven track record on road works.

Concurrently, before the termination, Augur Investments reportedly subcontracted a local company, Fairclot Investments (Pvt) Ltd trading as Trucking and Construction (Pvt) Ltd to carry out the construction of the road for a total sum of US$4,800,000,00 which is drastically less than the thousands of acres of land it received as payment for the project.

As was anticipated, Sharpe and Augur Investments ostensibly refused and failed to pay Fairclot Investments prompting the latter to seek justice in the court of law. Following arbitration, Fairclot Investments was awarded the sum of US$4,8 million.

Leveraging on the change of currency introduced by SI 33/19, Sharpe cleverly offered to settle the debt in Zimbabwean dollars to the tune of $3, 340, 500,00 which Fairclot Investments refused. The former is yet to receive the payment. Again, Katsimberis said this is fraud.

Meanwhile, Fairclot Investments recently took to outdoor advertising, cautioning land seekers against purchasing land on Stand 654, Pomona Township stressing that the land is still under litigation as it was pledged as security for the services rendered by Fairclot Investments to Augur on the aforementioned project.

Knowing that litigation was brewing, Sharpe allegedly never registered all the land he received from City of Harare under Augur Investments, an instance which is said to have allowed him to dodge payment to Fairclot Investment.

For six years, the construction of Airport Road in Harare remained incomplete, with Zimbabweans wondering why a 20km stretch of tarmac could cost a shocking US$80 million and take that long to finish.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Auditor General’s office have separately called for probes into the airport road contract. Infact, the construction of the 20km road is among dozens of cases of suspected corruption that ZACC promised to investigate.

An investigation into the project, would find how taxpayers and Harare ratepayers ended up paying eight times more than was recommended, how the City of Harare gave away vast tracts of prime land to pay for the project.

The City Council’s Special Lands Investigations Committee report added that the then Town Clerk, Dr Tendai Mahachi, confirmed that council officials met Augur representatives at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in 2007 after which the firm was awarded the US$80 million contract without a formal tender.

It is alleged that Augur was awarded the tender for the project after it formed a joint venture company, Sunshine Developments (Pvt) Ltd, with the Harare City Council. Council had a 30% stake while Augur held 70%.

The shareholder’s agreement which created the JVC (Sunshine Development Pvt) was signed on September 4 2007 — a day after the registration of Augur in Estonia although it had already signed the first MoA in June 2007.

It also emerged that Augur’s representative, Mr Oleksandr Sheremet, who signed the agreements with Harare City Council, only became a member of the Augur board on September 18, 2008.
Council investigators noted that Augur Investments was registered on September 3 2007, although it had already signed the first MoA in June 2007.

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