Chivayo feels heat over Zesa projects

HARARE - Controversial  Harare businessman, Wicknell Chivayo, is staring down the barrel of a gun as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) and Parliament turn the heat on him in a bid to have his power deals cancelled.

This comes as Zesa Holdings chief executive, Josh Chifamba, confirmed to the Daily News On Sunday yesterday that a board meeting would be held this week to review the deals signed with Intratek Zimbabwe — a company owned by Chivayo.

On his part, Chivayo said unequivocally that he would not be returning the $5 million in dispute — blaming a lack of funds on the part of Zesa for delays in the commencement of works at his Gwanda site.

“There is a contract and there is no need to return the money, but to complete the project. This is a multi-million dollar project and I have to do the job, and right now there are people on the ground.

“The $5 million is only for the pre-commencement works. The delay of the project is the issue of funding, but work on the ground will be complete in three weeks.

“I stand guided by obligations in the contract, not any speculation and wishful thinking from the media,” a defiant Chivayo told the Daily News On Sunday yesterday.

The burly businessman, who is often referred to by his associates as Sir Wicknell, was awarded a $200 million tender for the Gwanda Solar Project.

Wicknell Chivayo

Wicknell Chivayo

He was also awarded a further $73 million for the refurbishment of the Harare Power Station, $163 million for the restoration of the Munyati Power Station, and $248 million for the Gairezi Power project by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) — a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings.

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

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

Chifamba told the Daily News On Sunday that the power utility’s board would meet this week to deliberate on Chivayo’s projects.

However, he refused to be drawn into whether Chivayo would be asked to return the $5 million he was given, insisting that the Zesa board would make its position known on the matter after its meeting.

On the other hand, Parliament has said that it is gathering facts on Chivayo’s project before making a determination.

“We would want to investigate if proper procedure was followed. So, we will not rush to allege. If any procedure, standards and corporate governance issues were violated, then we will take it from there,” the chairperson of the Energy portfolio committee, Daniel Shumba, said on Friday.

Chivayo last week came under the spotlight for the power deals as his rivals called on authorities to expedite their investigations on his company and establish how he won all the lucrative power tenders running into hundreds of millions of dollars.

The flashy businessman often sets tongues wagging with Facebook posts of his expensive apparel, something that he does not make apologies about.

Chivayo, who once served a jail term for fraud, has also in the past been pictured with former president Robert Mugabe in his offices, as well as with his then powerful wife Grace and son Robert Junior while on holiday in Dubai.

He has also been previously pictured with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, when he was still prime minister during the inclusive government era.

Chivayo was said by his critics to be sympathetic to the Generation 40 (G40) faction, whose leadership was decapitated politically last month when the military intervened to remove some of its kingpins from power, claiming that they were criminals.