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Hopely Farm: Augur Investments dismiss City of Harare’s claim

Following several reports of alleged corrupt activities involving land between the City of Harare and Augur Investments that has led to the arrest of the latter’s director on charges of corruption, Augur Investments officials have dismissed as false and malicious all the levelled allegations against its officials.

Most recently, officials from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission besieged Augur Investments offices with the intention of finding information that would lead to the company being put under investigations over corruption activities involving land issues, but according to Augur Investments officials, its operations in Zimbabwe was found to be above board.

An official who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals said it is not in dispute that sometime in 2014, Augur Investments entered into a joint business venture agreement with the City of Harare for the development of Hopley (Tariro) in terms of which it was agreed that the City of Harare would provide land while the former would inject cash into the business.

However, at some point, the City of Harare decided to cancel the business agreement claiming Augur Investments did not have the capacity to fund the joint venture project but after some deliberations, the decision by the City of Harare was rescinded.

“Extract of the minutes of the business committee dated November 5, 2014 confirms the decision that was arrived at following deliberations between the City of Harare and Augur Investments,” Augur Investment official said.

“Clause 2.1.4 of the shareholders agreement required Augur Investments to establish a facility to finance the project contemplated by the agreement, which would be pro rata to its shareholding in the company being 70% Augur Investments and 30% City of Harare and this was complied with.”

According to the official, thereafter the City of Harare provided land at an agreed value of $191 700 and nothing further while Augur Investments provided funding on loan account to the tune of $ 1 667 510, equity as cash deposit in December 2015 in the sum of $500 000 and NMB loan secured by $2 640 000 of Augur Investment’s assets.

“This brings to date the total contribution from Augur Investments to the project as $4 817 510 and therefore the value that the City of Harare was supposed to contribute to equalise the ratio of 70/30 in terms of clause 13.5 of the joint venture agreement was $1 445 253 but the City of Harare only provided land to the total $191 700,” the official said.

“It is therefore apparently clear that in terms of the joint venture agreement between Augur Investments and City of Harare, the latter owes Augur Investments in the sum of $1 253 533 which amount still remains outstanding despite a recent onslaught against Augur Investments.”

As if that is not enough, the official said, in an effort to save the joint venture with the City, Augur held a series of meetings with the board of directors and shareholders of Sunshine Developments over a period of two years leading up to August 2016 when a deadlock was declared and Josephine Ncube, the then Acting Town Clerk, wanted the matter to be referred to arbitration.

“Augur finds it very shocking that instead of waiting for the court process to be completed, the City of Harare went and reported the matter as a criminal case. The City of Harare owes Augur over $20 million and has not been able to fulfil its responsibilities.

Contacted for comment City of Harare Mayor Herbert Gomba declined to comment.

 

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About Tafara Clayton Mushope

Photographer, intern journalist at ZimOnline News