BUSINESSMAN Wicknel Chivayo and his company, Intratek Zimbabwe, were yesterday cleared of the bribery charges they were facing.

The presiding magistrate granted their application for discharge ruling that the State had failed to prove its case.

Chivayo was dragged to court on a count of bribery wherein it was alleged that he offered a bribe to former Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) chairman Stanley Nyasha Kazhanje as an inducement or reward for facilitating or influencing the board to make favourable decisions towards Chivayo in the Gwanda Solar Project. Magistrate Nduna in the beginning of his ruling said the State poorly framed the charge as it did not reveal the said favours allegedly advanced to Chivayo and his company as intended by the alleged bribe of US$10 000.

“The State led evidence from a number of witnesses and two more witnesses didn’t grace he witness stand as their statements were admitted as evidence and after leading the evidence, it closed its case and the accused launched the application for discharge praying for an acquittal at this stage of the case.

“An accused person who demands a discharge at the close of the State case must tell the court the ground upon which that relief is sought and a court is obligated to discharge an accused at the end of the case of the prosecution if a prima facie case has not been established by that stage.

“The starting point after having stated the law is to look at the essential elements of the offence, it is that which Chivayo claimed was not established by the State by the evidence and the agreed facts are that Chivayo and Intratek Zimbabwe are into commerce and they won the Gwanda Solar Project, they had certain conditions which were supposed to be met before any monies were advanced, money was paid before the said conditions were fully met, Kazhanje was a board chairman when the US$10 000 payments was made and that he had some consultancy work for Chivayo before becoming board chair.

“Having stated the issues that are common cause between the parties, it is important to then look at the point of divergence as the state now says the US$10 000 was bribe for Chivayo to get favours from ZPC but no direct evidence was placed before the court to show that the money followed some illicit arrangement,” he said.

Nduna added that according to the evidence led from the board members, the board of directors was not responsible for the conclusion of the tender which was awarded Chivayo and his company and their evidence is that the contract was handed over to ZPC by State procurement and they said again the contract was signed by management and the board had no input in that.

“The favour which only came out was the payment to Chivayo that was made before he had met the conditions set in the contract and the evidence again shows that the board was not involved in that decision made by the management of ZPC hence it is wrong for the State that an inference be drawn that US$10 000 was paid to Kazhanje.

“We have direct evidence of what transpired hence there is no reasons the money should be viewed as a bribe and there is no evidence that Kazhanje influenced the decision and I have no doubt that Chivayo is entitled to a discharge as the close of the state case as there is no possibility of conviction because state failed to prove its case,” said Nduna.

Ephraim Zinyandu and Cecelia Mashingaidze appeared for the state.

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