Biti caught in web of lies, touches off racial storm

(Last Updated On: October 28, 2022)

MOSES MATENGA

A Harare-based land development firm has accused Harare East Member of Parliament Tendai Biti of using racist undertones and lying against the company in a bid to dodge court processes in a case he is accused of assaulting a foreign investor.

Biti has had a longstanding battle with West Properties senior executive Tatiana Aleshina and is in the dock facing charges of assaulting her after a court session in 2020.

The former finance minister claimed innocence and said he was a target of a captured system.

Biti alleged the company, West Properties, was involved in land theft and corruption, a claim dismissed by the firm’s legal and public relations team that accused the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) interim vice president of misrepresenting facts and playing to the gallery while avoiding answering to alleged criminal charges of assault.

“In addition to having no basis in truth, these claims are also cruel and ill-intentioned,” the company said in a statement.

“For instance, Biti claimed that the City of Harare extended to (West Properties chief executive officer) Kenneth Raydon Sharpe in excess of 200 000 hectares of land. This was among several outrageous falsehoods cooked up to stir up negative public sentiment.”

They said Biti’s claim was “preposterous hyperbole” and should not have escaped any scrutiny as Harare only had 94 000 hectares.

“Harare is only 94 000 hectares, a fact which exposes the claim as a malicious lie concocted by clumsy imagination.”

The legal team accused Biti of using language with racial undertones to set Sharpe and his business against the public.

“Biti proceeded to accuse Sharpe of the largest land theft in Zimbabwe since the country’s independence from white settler rule, despite knowing that the accusation was false. The incendiary language had racial overtones and was intended to generate a negative public opinion of Sharpe.”

The lawyers also accused Biti of misrepresenting facts on the Harare City Council and Augur Investments deal were he alleged the firmed was involved in plunder of council land.

“The City of Harare fulfilled its legal obligations to Augur Investments, as mandated by the courts following a contractual dispute between the parties. The dispute arose after several contractual violations related to the city’s failure to fulfil its obligations in a timely and competent manner,” the lawyers said.

“This is a straightforward contractual dispute that has been litigated to its natural conclusion, having been settled by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe. Instead of casting casual aspersions to support his ludicrous claims of plunder by corruption, Biti should present a coherent explication of his objections to the manner in which the judiciary handled this matter. He has none.”

“The absence of a legal justification for his continued harassment of our company suggests that his only objective is to generate negative news coverage at the expense of our commercial interests. This appears to be an effort to divert public attention away from his unacceptable behaviour toward our executive, Tatiana Aleshina, whom he verbally abused without provocation in November 2020 at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.”

Biti was a lawyer for a businessman, George Katsimberis, who was having legal battles with West Properties.

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