PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa, through the Sheriff, transferred vast tracts of disputed land to Augur Investments’ nominee company Doorex Properties following a secret deed of settlement that also offered Augur unusual immunity from any litigation on the land.
The title deed for the land was being held in escrow by Coghlan, Welsh and Guest Legal Practitioners at the time of the secret agreement as the land was being contested between Augur and Trucking and Construction (T&C) Private Limited, a company it had subcontracted to construct part of the Airport Road.
The deed of settlement signed on 28 May 2019 between Tatiana Aleshina on behalf of Augur and Local Government minister July Moyo, seen by The NewsHawks this week, was given the status of a High Court order. It stated that within 24 hours of signature, Moyo was to issue an instruction for the release of the title deed for stand 654 Pomona from escrow.
According to deeds of transfer and other documents, the Sheriff granted the power of attorney to Augur and Doorex lawyer Douglas Chinawa in November 2019, with the land being transferred in January 2020.
“I Macduff Madenga, in my capacity as the Sheriff for Zimbabwe, acting in terms of an order of the High Court of Zimbabwe at Harare passed under case no HC4520/19 on 3rd June 2019 for The President of Zimbabwe do hereby nominate, constitute and appoint Douglass Chinawa, or Takunda Emmanuel Gumbo or Anna Mapanzure or Blessed Ngwenya or Effort Dube with power of substitution to be my lawful attorney and agent in my name, place and stead to appear before the Registrar of Deeds at Harare and there and then as my act and deed to make transfer to Doorex Properties (Private) Limited of certain 273,2923 hectares of land called 654 Pomona Township held under deed of grant No. 2884/2010 dated 1st of July 2010; subject to the conditions mentioned or referred to in the said deed; which land the said The President of Zimbabwe, terms of an order of the High Court of Zimbabwe at Harare passed under case No 4528/19 on 3rd June 2019, is obliged to transfer to Doorex Properties,” the power of attorney document reads.
Augur is a company linked to businessman and land developer Ken Sharpe. The valuation of the said property was put at US$4.8 million.
According to the deed of transfer signed by Chinawa, the transferor of the land is mentioned as The President of Zimbabwe, while the transferee is Doorex Properties.
Mnangagwa together with Moyo, the City of Harare and Augur Investments representatives were at the beginning of this month sued by the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Harare residents over the parcelling out of land to Augur Investments.
The land, transferred to Augur and shelf companies linked to the company, was payment for the Airport Road project, which was never completed.
At the time of the deed of settlement, the City of Harare was trying to recover its land from Augur.
Previously, former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere had also tried to seize back the land given to Augur.
However, Moyo, acting on behalf of the state, undertook to immediately withdraw all and any criminal cases against Augur, its associated companies, representatives and its directors.
In the secret deed of settlement, attached as an annexure to T&C’s court documents, Moyo, representing himself and Mnangagwa, gave Augur assurances that the company would not face litigation from the government, Harare municipality or third parties regarding the land.
As a result of the secret nature of the immunity deal, it was emphasised that the arrangement involving Mnangagwa and Moyo must be treated with “utmost confidentiality”.
The land in dispute – stand 654 Pomona township (273.29 hectares) – has opened a Pandora’s Box, showing the deep involvement of Mnangagwa and Moyo.
A company subcontracted by Augur for civil works on the road project — Trucking and Construction (T&C) Pvt Ltd — is claiming the land in a bid to recover its US$4.8 million for services and equipment provided during the project.
Before the dodgy agreement, signed on 28 May 2019, the City of Harare was also involved in legal battles with Augur to get back land it had given the company as payment. The city wanted the land back, arguing Augur failed to complete the project as agreed.
Augur in July 2019 filed an urgent court application for stay of execution on a court ruling in favour of T&C. It claimed the land could not be seized by T&C as it was registered in Mnangagwa’s name.
“The writ of execution itself was not served on the correct domicilium citandi executandi of Augur. Instead the writ was simply dropped at the gate to immovable property which T&C seeks to attach, which property to date of this application remains in the name of the President of Zimbabwe,” the application reads.
“Further, the immovable property that T&C wishes to attach in execution is registered in the name of the President of Zimbabwe and no consent has been sought from the President for the attachment of such property.”
Stand 654 Pomona was Augur’s security as well as for payment for future work and equipment hired for the contract between T&C and Augur for the project.
T&C, represented by Mutumbwa, Mugabe & Partners Legal Practitioners, went to court for the release of the piece of land and payment after Augur had reneged.