A Harare Company West Properties Zimbabwe has exposed parliamentarian Tendai Biti’s malicious attack against them after the legislator claimed that the company received 200 000 hectares of land from the City of Harare thereby ignoring the fact that Harare as a whole is only 94 000 hectares.
According to the company, Biti is cynically manipulating public opinion in a manner that betrays gross disrespect for the intelligence of the public.
The company said Biti’s conduct is unusual for a man occupying the political position he enjoys in society and the world saying it is completely unheard of and thoroughly unbecoming of a learned legal practitioner.
"Biti intends to muddy the waters by baiting journalists with sensational but false claims, knowing that they will be repeated without verification. It would be unfortunate if the media rewarded his contemptuous behaviour. All this is by design.
"Biti knows that Kenneth Raydon Sharpe (WestPro CEO) did not receive 200,000 hectares of land from the City of Harare. He knows Harare is only 94,000 hectares in size. He knows that the matter was settled by the Supreme Court and has nothing to do with the charges he is facing. He is cynically manipulating public opinion in a manner that betrays gross disrespect for the intelligence of the public. While his conduct is unusual for a man occupying the political position he enjoys in society, it is completely unheard of and thoroughly unbecoming of a learned legal practitioner," WestPro public relations manager Michael Chideme said.
He said Biti is misleading media in his claims saying these claims are just cruel and ill-intentioned.
Chideme said the company only received 270 hectares of land from City if Harare saying the 200 000 figure by Biti was among outrageous falsehoods cooked up to stir up negative public sentiment and concocted malicious lie.
"Mr. Biti proceeded to accuse Mr. Sharpe of the largest land theft in Zimbabwe since the country's independence from white settler rule, despite knowing that the accusation was false. The incendiary language had racial overtones and was intended to generate a negative public opinion of Mr. Sharpe. Regrettably, these remarks have been repeatedly published
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despite their obviously fictitious foundation.
"Mr. Biti went on to misrepresent the facts surrounding Augur Investments’ dispute with the City of Harare, suggesting that it had been plundered of land in a corrupt rampage masterminded by Mr. Sharpe. The City of Harare fulfilled its legal obligations to Augur Investments, as mandated by the courts following a contractual dispute between the parties. The dispute arose after several contractual violations related to the city’s failure to fulfil its obligations in a timely and competent manner," Chideme said.
He said the failure by City of Harare were contested and are documented in courts which is accessible by public.
"Specifically, these failures involve the tendering of unzoned land unfit for the stated purpose of commercial development. This unzoned land was irresponsibly given as consideration ina commercial transaction which Augur entered into in good faith," the company said.
"Instead of swiftly resolving these failings to allow work to proceed as planned, the City of Harare took an inordinate amount of time to take remedial action. Instead of recognising Augur’s good faith in trying to salvage the agreement, by not enforcing its rights, despite several material and egregious violations, the city shockingly sought to prejudice the company by holding it responsible for failures the city had itself occasioned. Accordingly, Augur exercised its rights in a firm response.
"This is a straightforward contractual dispute that has been litigated to its natural conclusion, having been settled by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe," they said.
Chideme said Biti cannot purport to contest the findings and determinations of the High Court and Supreme Court, as expressed without providing specific objections to those rulings, which upheld the company title to the Pomona property in question.
"The absence of a legal justification for his continued harassment of our company suggests that his only objective is to generate negative news coverage at the expense of our commercial interests. This appears to be an effort to divert public attention away from his unacceptable behaviour towards our executive, Tatiana Aleshina, whom he verbally abused without provocation in November 2020 at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.
"Ms. Aleshina had attended court representing West Property in a case in which George Katsimberis had illegally built on the company’s land, having unlawfully secured permits from corrupt elements inside the local authority. That matter is still pending before the courts. Mr. Biti's verbal assault on our executive occurred exclusively in the context of those proceedings," the company said.
The company said Biti accuses Sharpe of corruption despite the fact that he is defending George Katsimberis who had corruptly obtained permits as demonstrated in court.
"Indeed, the corrupt Harare City official who issued the aforementioned permits is currently on the run from the police, who wish to question him on suspicion of criminal abuse of office. Far from being political, this is a case about a bully who has gotten away with lies and intimidation and expects everyone else to just take it. We have no intention of surrendering to these jungle tactics. Instead, we will be taking action to expose and hold Mr. Biti accountable for his conduct."
The company said Biti is seeking to divert his criminal allegation of assaulting its company executive.