Former mayoress arrested for $80 million fraud

By Nompumelelo Tshuma

A former City of Harare (COH)  boss has been dragged in the $8 million Airport road fraud which has already seen two other bosses in court.She ran the affairs  of COH during the period extending from 2005 to 2007.

Sekesai Makwavara (61) appeared before Harare Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa facing charges of criminal abuse of office. Makwavara was remanded to February 28.

Allegations are that sometime in 2007, COH planned to construct and upgrade the airport road and on June 22 that year, Makwavara connived with Tendayi and Michael Mahachi who are already on remand for the same offence.

The trio is alleged to have corruptly contracted Augur investments to undertake the $80 million Airport Road rehabilitation project.

Augur investments is owned by Michael Mahachi who was then chairperson of the  Commission of the City of Harare .

Prosecuting ,Shephered Makonde alleges that on May 21 2008, the City of Harare entered into a memorandum of agreement with Augur Investments,foreign company purportedly based in Ukraine.

The trio allegedly signed the agreements on behalf of City of Harare and Augur Investments was represented by Kenneth Sharpe and Olex and Sheremet.

The agreement, worth $80 million, was for the construction and up gradeof Airport Road and was meant to be completed in 2010.

According to the agreement, the court heard that Augur Investment was to fund the project while the City Of Harare was to cede land to the company in lieu of the work done.

The court also heard that title deeds were to be transferred to Augur Investments and be held in trust by Messrs Coghlan Welsh and Guest pending transfer upon certification of work done.

It is the State’s case that in terms of the Urban Councils Act Chapter29:15 procurement of service providers is done in terms of sections 210 and 211 of the said Act.

The trio corruptly appointed Augur Investments to undertake the upgrading of Airport Road without inviting competitive bids for the project.

Augur Investments was allegedly not registered in the country at the time and was only registered in 2010 after the contract expired.

It is alleged that Augur Investments did not complete the project as it did not have the capacity to handle the project of such magnitude.

Consequently, the City of Harare suffered prejudice of $80 million,the court heard.