Controversial and high-living businessman, Wicknell Chivayo, yesterday told Parliament how former president Robert Mugabe’s office and two ministers had used their influence to have him awarded multi-million-dollar power deals which are now under investigation by government.
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.
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.
Yesterday Chivayo was given a torrid time by MPs when he appeared before the portfolio committee on Mines and Energy chaired by Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa, to explain how he won the power tenders and explain progress on the projects.
Chivayo told the committee that former Energy ministers – Dzikamai Mavhaire and Samuel Undenge – who both served at different times in Mugabe’s government, had used their influence to have his company Intratek awarded the tenders and receive the subsequent $ 5 million.
The jet-setting convicted fraudster revealed that while Mavhaire facilitated his awarding of the tender despite losing the bid, Undenge arm-twisted the ZPC to pay him $2, 1 million in feasibility study fees notwithstanding his failure to provide surety.
“After I failed to win the tender in 2013 I then went to see minister Mavhaire to protest that I was the brain child of the whole project so how come I end up not getting it?
“I also wrote to the chief secretary to the president (Misheck Sibanda) as well as the chairperson of the State Procurement Board (SPB) the late Charles Kuwaza to register my complaint and they all understood me and that my argument made sense. The minister then took the matter to cabinet and it was approved,” he told MPs.
Chivayo, who went through a lengthy grilling, consumed large quantities of water as he dealt with a flurry of questions from the MPs who ended up offering him more water, in case his ran out.
“In terms of SPB rules one should approach the courts if there is a complaint but I reasoned that it would have meant that progress for those who had won it would have stopped yet I had a feeling that we could all be given the tenders for various projects because we were all compliant with requirements and that we had a huge power deficit,” Chivayo added.
The MPs accused Chivayo of approaching the ministers’ and Mugabe’s offices to use their political influence in deciding Intratek got the tenders.
Chivayo strenuously denied that he had bribed the three offices as had been alleged.
MDC Zengeza West MP Simon Chidhakwa demanded to know if Chivayo thought that he got the tender on merit given that Intratek was formed in 2012 and won such a huge tender in 2013.
Chivayo insisted that he had won it on the basis of merit because his other partners from China were the ones whose credibility was considered by the SPB.
He, however,struggled to respond when MPs demanded to know why he approached Undenge to pressure ZPC to pay him the $2, 1 million without a bank guarantee.
“When the ZPC managing director Noah Gwariro refused to pay me the $2,1 million on account of having no advance payment bank guarantee of $350 000 , I approached minister Undenge to say that I had delivered on the feasibility study but they are refusing to pay me.
“I then got a phone call from ZPC to say they had been instructed to pay me at all costs. I am fighter and I believe in fighting for what is mine and probably that is the reason why I usually succeed. I had to talk to all I thought could help me.
“When it leaked that I had been paid, nobody wanted to take it forward. Everybody withdrew because there were suspicions of corruption. When there is bad publicity, nobody wants to be associated with that. The minister (Undenge) was now saying the information has been leaked,” Chivayo said, insisting that there was nothing unusual about the payment.
Mliswa in particular wanted to know why he did not approach Undenge when ZPC demanded the bank guarantee on future payments.
“You said you fight for what is yours now we want to know why you did not continue to engage the minister to force payment like you did for the first one if that was not corruption. How can a minister stop because the media is writing things?
“If you know you are doing the right thing, why don’t you continue? Doesn’t this show that what the media was writing was correct?” asked Mliswa.
Recently, ZPC board chairperson Stanley Kazhanje told the committee that Chivayo was in fact paid $7 million, instead of the $5 million for the Gwanda solar project.
Energy minister Simon Khaya Moyo recently appeared before the same committee and promised that government descend on all involved if a forensic audit it ordered proved there was corruption.
Khaya Moyo said several companies had submitted bids to conduct the forensic audit.
The flashy Chivayo 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 in November when the military intervened to remove some of its kingpins from power, claiming that they were criminals.