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New twist to Augur-HCC saga

By Tendai Kamhungira

Augur Investments (Augur) and the Harare City Council (HCC)’s land saga has taken a new twist after the company defended the deal, claiming everything was done above board and accused the city council of pursuing a false and malicious agenda.

Harare Town House
Harare Town House

This comes after several reports of alleged corrupt activities by the company, which recently led officials from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to besiege Augur offices with the intention of finding information that would lead to the company being put under investigation.

However, according to Augur officials, the operation did not yield a meaningful result.

A top official with the company, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said the company entered into a joint business venture with the HCC in 2014 for the development of Hopley (Tariro).

In terms of this agreement, the HCC was to provide land while Augur was to inject cash into the business.

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did not have the capacity to fund the joint venture project but after some deliberations, the decision by the HCC was rescinded.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

“Clause 2.1.4 of the shareholders agreement required Augur 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 percent Augur and 30 percent City of Harare and this was complied with,” the official said.

According to the official, thereafter the HCC provided land at an agreed value of $191 700 and nothing further, while Augur 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 the company’s assets.

“This brings to date the total contribution from Augur 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.

The company official said in terms of the agreement it is clear that the HCC actually owes it $1 253 533, adding that he was in shock on why the council was pressing for criminal charges against officials under the circumstances.

Efforts to get a comment from the city council were fruitless. DailyNews