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Ex-Harare council boss in court over graft

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Former caretaker chairperson of the commission running the City of Harare, Sekesai Makwavarara has been arrested on charges of corruptly awarding Augur Investment Company a contract without following due process.

Makwavarara (61) was not asked to plead when she appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa, who remanded her to February 28 on $1 000 bail.

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.

The State alleges on September 4, 2007, Makwavarara and her accomplices entered into a shareholders agreement and MoU on May 21, 2008 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.

But Makwavarara acting in cahoots with her accomplices allegedly hatched a plan to violate the provisions of the law and engaged Augur Investments, a company which was not registered in Zimbabwe under the Companies Act and under the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) 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 did not complete the project due to lack of capacity to handle projects of such magnitude. The project was later taken over by the government through the Department of Roads and was financed by the Zimbabwe National Road Administration.

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.

Sebastian Mutizirwa appeared for the State.

source:the newsday

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