Spotlight falls on Wicknell again over controversial ZESA tender
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy is putting pressure on government to implement the moribund Gwanda solar energy project with haste, throwing the spotlight on flamboyant businessmen Wicknell Chivayo once more.
Chivayo was awarded a $200 million tender to roll out the project which will feed into the national grid to ease the country’s electricity woes.After consummating the power deal in October 2015, no meaningful progress has been achieved to bring the project to fruition.
In fact, the project which is expected to generate 100 megawatts of electricity, has been mired in controversy, amid accusations of underhand dealings between bureaucrats in former president Robert Mugabe’s government and the burly businessman.
Chivayo has consistently denied any wrong doing.
In a report presented in Parliament on Monday, the portfolio committee said the work that has been done on the energy project does not tally with the amount paid to the contractor.
“The committee is concerned to know that the work that has been done and the amount paid to the contractor does not tally,” reads part of the report.
“To win back the people’s confidence, it is recommended that the implementation of the project moves with speed so that tangible results are seen instead of continued reports that the project is still at the preparation stage of the project cycle.”
The committee further recommended that the Procurement Regulatory Authority Board should move with speed in coming up with a framework that will ensure that in future controversies that surround the Gwanda solar project do not occur again, such as the payment made in the absence of a performance bond.
Chivayo has been staring down the barrel over the power deals which he signed with Zesa Holdings and its subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).
These deals have come under scrutiny after Intratrek apparently failed to deliver on them.
ZPC senior management were recently arrested for advancing $5 million to Chivayo for this project’s pre-commencement works, despite the fact that the businessman had 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 the commencement of works.
It insulates the client in the event that the contractor fails to fulfil obligations set out in the contract.
Apart from the Gwanda project, Chivayo 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.
An elite investigating unit, the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI) is current digging into Chivayo’s deals.
NECI recently ordered him to submit his bank statements, contract documents and cash books as part of widening investigations into the Zesa deals.
Chivayo’s project has attracted a lot of attention, including from Member of Parliament.
“The situation was worsened by the media houses which provided conflicting statements regarding the project starters,” noted the portfolio committee on mines and energy.
“Some of the reports have cited irregularities in the manner in which the tender was awarded and the payment of the initial $5 million paid to the contractor that is Intratrek.”