Wicknell, ex-energy minister’s woes mount as investigation reveals fresh can of worms

Energy minister Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday told Parliament that more heads were set to roll at Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) over the $7 million Gwanda solar project which was awarded to businessman Wicknell Chivayo and was never implemented even though he was paid the full amount.

WICKNELL’S CONTROVERSIAL ZESA SAGA SUCKS IN MORE VICTIMS

Moyo had appeared before the Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee with his ministry secretary Partson Mbiriri, Zesa board chairman Herbert Murerwa, ZPC board chairman Stanley Kazhanje and Zesa chief executive officer Josh Chifamba where they were grilled over the shady deal where Chivayo was paid $7 million, including value-added tax to execute the project.

It turned out that instead of the $5 million purported to have been paid to Chivayo, he was paid $7 million upfront. Moyo disclosed to MPs that former Energy minister Samuel Undenge masterminded the shady deal, giving directives to the ZPC board to seal the deal.

“Heads are going to roll, and the Chivayo Gwanda solar project has been a matter of interest to many people and was brought up in Cabinet and later we heard that a directive came from the former Energy minister Undenge to the ZPC board to award the contract to Intratek [Chivayo’s company],” he said.

“I have said to the Auditor-General [Midred Chiri] that this matter needs to be thoroughly investigated and exposed because it was one of the issues raised during former President Robert Mugabe’s impeachment motion by MPs, and at the end of the day we need to get to know the truth to find out how the
$7 million was given to Chivayo,” he said.

Kazhanje had failed to explain before the committee how the ZPC board made a decision to award the tender to Chivayo and if any inspections on the progress of the project were being made.

It turned out that Chivayo never commenced work on the project despite the $7 million being fully paid.

MPs questioned Murerwa over why the Zesa board allowed the $7 million to be released to Chivayo without the board giving a nod to the payment. “I do not know because I was not chairman at the time, but as far as I know no board resolution was made over that,” Murerwa said.

Kazhanje revealed that the money was paid to Chivayo within three months in several batches of between $200 000 and $2 million.
Currently, a forensic audit has commenced on the $7 million Gwanda solar sroject, but Moyo and Mbiriri expressed concern over that saying they only came to know that ZPC was carrying out a forensic audit through the media.

Chairperson of the Mines Committee Temba Mliswa said the committee would summon Chivayo to Parliament and would soon travel to Gwanda to do site visits and investigate the issue.

On the Dema Power Project which was awarded to Sakunda and Aggreko, and which gobbled between 10,8 million and 12 million litres of diesel per month, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority chief executive officer Gloria Magombo said the project was abandoned a year ago.

But, MPs questioned why a statutory instrument was then issued in November 2017 to Dema for importation of duty-free diesel when the project had abandoned, where the fuel was going, and who was benefiting from that diesel. Legislators said the fuel might have been leaked onto the black market.

Zesa CEO Chifamba said the project was beneficial during the time when Kariba’s water levels were too low, but MPs demanded figures from Zesa showing the energy that was supplied by Dema compared to the fuel they got.

The committee blasted ZPC for failing to do due diligence on the Dema project before it was implemented.

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