The transfer followed a secret deed of settlement that also offered Augur 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.
According to online sources, an escrow is “a bond, deed, or other document kept in the custody of a third party and taking effect only when a specified condition has been fulfilled.”
T&C Private Limited had been subcontracted by Augur Investments 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 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 seen by The NewsHawks, the Sheriff, Macduff Madenga, granted the power of attorney to Augur and Doorex lawyer Douglas Chinawa in November 2019, with the land being transferred in January 2020.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, 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, assured Augur that the company would not face litigation from the government, Harare municipality or third parties regarding the land.
The land in dispute is Stand 654 Pomona township measuring 273.29 hectares.
The property 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.