Wicknell in big trouble

Wicknell in big trouble
Published: 13 March 2018
The noose is tightening around dubious businessman Wicknell Chivayo, who is now facing a real prospect of doing jail time again, after the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) ominously told Parliament yesterday that it had finished its internal probe and had since reported him to both the police and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).

This comes after Chivayo, who is referred to by his close associates as Sir Wicknell, was controversially awarded a $200 million tender for the Gwanda Solar Project - but has done nothing meaningful to date, except putting up two shacks at the site, which has drawn the ire of MPs who visited it recently.

Surprisingly, the ex-convict was also awarded a further $73 million contract for the refurbishment of the Harare Power Station - in addition to the $163 million contract for the restoration of the Munyati Power Station and the $248 million contract for the Gairezi power project by the ZPC, a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings.

Appearing before the Mines and Energy Committee chaired by feisty Norton legislator Temba Mliswa yesterday, the ZPC board confirmed that Chivayo had been paid millions of dollars even before the parastatal had secured the land for the Gwanda Solar Project - raising further questions about the multi-million-dollar deal.

ZPC company secretary and legal advisor Nora Tsitsi Tsomondo told the Mliswa-led committee that all the necessary paperwork regarding the Chivayo deals was now complete.

"Yes, we are working with Zacc and the police and I will furnish you with the documents ... we are now closer.

"As I said before, we are dealing with a cunning person, but we are closer. We are going to give you documents. We gave them (management) our opinion, but due process was not followed," Tsomondo told the committee.

ZPC board member responsible for finance, Thandiwe Mlobane, weighed in saying the payment to Chivayo was done without their knowledge and that former Energy minister, Samuel Undenge had given the suspect directive to management.

"We asked why Intratek was given the tender. We heard it came from the minister. We also asked them (management) what due diligence have you done to include Intratek and we were told that they used the supplier profile to adjudicate (the matter).

"We, as a committee, were not happy with that. We said why would you do a due diligence on the supplier rather than the contractor, but the horse had already bolted. Payment (to Intratek) had already been done," Mlobane said.

She also told the stunned committee that the $200 million tender had been awarded to Chivayo before ZPC had acquired the land to build the solar plant.

"We raised the issue of land ... We said how you can do a project when the land is not yet given to ZPC. We were told that since it was government, the issue of land was going to be sorted out.

"When we looked at the papers, we saw that the ministry of Lands said the land was for educational purposes and we were wondering if it was for educational purposes how were we going to put the plant.

"Having noted that, we said no more payments should be done. In another committee where I sit … we said we wanted a forensic audit. A special audit was carried out ... the bottom line is, payments were done without a bank guarantee," Mlobane further told the committee.

Meanwhile, Procurement Regulatory Authority board chairperson Vimbai Nyemba and chief executive officer Nyasha Chizu also said pointedly that the process to negotiate with Intratek had been illegal.

Last month, Chivayo told the same parliamentary committee how former president Robert Mugabe's office, as well as two ministers, had used their influence to have him awarded the multi-million dollar power deals.

Chivayo told the committee that former Energy ministers Dzikamai Mavhaire and Undenge - who served at different times in Mugabe's government - had used their influence to have his company Intratek awarded the tenders, culminating in him receiving the $5 million advance payment.

The jet-setting convicted fraudster also revealed that Mavhaire had facilitated his winning of the tender despite him having lost the initial bid, while Undenge had arm-twisted ZPC to pay him $2,1 million in feasibility study fees - notwithstanding his failure to provide surety.

ZPC senior management stands accused of advancing $5 million to Chivayo for the Gwanda Solar Project's pre-commencement works, despite him not providing the necessary performance guarantee as required by law.

The performance guarantee acts as financial security and is supposed to be presented by the contractor before the commencement of works. It insulates the client in the event of the contractor failing to fulfil obligations set out in the contract.

Recently, ZPC board chairperson Stanley Kazhanje told the committee that Chivayo was in fact paid $7 million, rather than the much-talked about $5 million for the Gwanda Solar Project.

Yesterday, Kazhanje also admitted to having done some consultancy work for Chivayo.

When Energy minister Simon Khaya Moyo recently appeared before the same committee, he promised that the government would descend down heavily on all involved, if a forensic audit it ordered proved that there was corruption.

Khaya Moyo also said several companies had submitted bids to conduct the forensic audit.

The flashy Chivayo often sets tongues wagging with Facebook posts of his overseas jaunts and expensive purchases and apparel - something that he does not make any apologies for.

Last week, he bragged on social media about having bought a pair of shoes for a whopping R20 000.

- dailynews


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