Makwavarara’s $80m fraud docket to be merged

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

THE court has ordered that former chairperson of Harare City Council’s caretaker commission, Sekesai Makwavavarara, who is accused of awarding a road dualisation tender to Augur Investment Company without following tender procedures, be tried together with the company’s representative following the merger of their dockets.

Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya made the directive on Friday to facilitate trial of Makwavarara (61) and Augur Investments director Michael Van Blerk. Both are facing
similar charges.

Allegations are that sometime in 2007, Makwavarara, acting in common purpose with former town clerk, Tendai Mahachi and fellow commissioner, Michael Mahachi corruptly caused council to enter into a memorandum of agreement with Augur Investments without a resolution and without following tender procedures.

It is alleged that Makwavarara and her accomplices signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) representing City of Harare, while Augur Investments was represented by Olexander Sheremet.

The MoU was signed by Makwavarara in connivance with her accomplice and former town clerk.

The State alleges that Makwavarara and her accomplices unprocedurally entered into a shareholders agreement with Augur Investments, a foreign-based company, purportedly based
in Ukraine.

The agreement and MoU were for the construction and upgrading of the Airport Road at a cost of $80 million.
Augur Investments was to fund and provide the expertise for the project, while the City of Harare was to cede pieces of land to the company.

The project was allegedly divided into four phases and was to be completed in 2010.

The shareholders agreed that the title deeds of the land were to be held in trust by Messrs Coghlan Welsh and Guest pending transfer upon completion and certification of work done.

It then emerged that the engagement of Augur Investments violated provisions of the law because the company was not registered in Zimbabwe under the Companies Act and under the Zimbabwe Investment Authority at the time of the agreement.

The company was later registered in 2010 after the lifespan of the alleged contract had expired.

The engagement of Augur Investments by the accused persons was a violation of the Urban Councils Act, which provides for service providers and tenders by local authorities.

Augur Investments, however, did not complete the project due to lack of capacity. The project was later taken over by the government through the Department of Roads and financed by the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara).

Due to their actions, the State alleges that the City of Harare suffered prejudice of $80 million being the value of land measuring 107 572 hectares, which was transferred to Augur Investments.

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