HARARE – Jet-setting Harare businessman Wicknell Chivayo, who was arrested on Thursday in connection with his power deals which saw him being advanced $5 million by Zesa Holdings(Zesa) before work commenced, was last night condemned to prison before continuation of his bail hearing today.
Chivayo and his company Intratek Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd are being charged with fraud, money laundering and contravening two sections of Exchange Control Act.
The burly controversial businessman who is represented by Lewis Uriri and Onias Takaindisa will be back at the Harare Magistrates’ Court today where magistrate Elisha Singano continues to hear his bail application.
Uriri told the court that police had called Chivayo on Thursday morning on the pretext that he had funded Wednesday’s ugly demonstrations which saw suspected MDC Alliance clashing with the police and military in the capital.
“My client was in United States of America when he heard that police wanted to interview him on July 28. He had to fly back although there was no direct communication with him and that cannot be consistent with a person who would flee,” Uriri said as he pleaded for Chivayo to be granted bail.
Prosecutor Michael Reza opposed bail on the basis that Chivayo was likely to flee because of the lengthy prison sentence of 35 years he could potentially serve if he was convicted on fraud alone.
“Fraud is a crime of deception and not a cent has been recovered from the accused person. Last year he was invited to the police and a warned and cautioned statement recorded but he was never brought to court.
“The accused person must be reminded that the law is just and fair irrespective of what crime one would have committed. It does not mean that bail is only denied to rapists and murderers only,” said Reza.
Chivayo has been staring down the barrel over the past months over the power deals which he signed with Zesa and its subsidiary the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) — which came under the spotlight after Intratek Zimbabwe, apparently failed to deliver on them.
Among the deals, 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.
ZPC senior management advanced $5 million to him for this project’s pre-commencement works, despite Chivayo 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.
ZPC, represented by its board member Thandiwe Mlobane, are the complainant in the matter which is now before Singano.
State alleged that sometime in 2012, ZPC resolved to increase its national grid.
A feasibility study was carried out and a tender was floated in August 2013 for the installation of a 100 Megawatt solar power plant in Gwanda.
The tender was awarded to a Chinese company China Jianxi at a cost of $183 million.
Chivayo participated in the tender with a bid of $248 million which was ranked third lowest but it was, however, alleged his accomplice, former Energy minister Samuel Undenge, interfered with the process and directed ZPC to award the tender to Chivayo and his company.
He reportedly won the tender at $172 848 597.
The court was told that on October 23, 2015 ZPC acted on the misrepresentation and signed a contract with Chivayo for implementation of the project.
It was alleged that ZPC released $5 607 814, 24 into Intratek bank account for the project to take off but allegedly converted or transferred the money into various individual and company accounts.
He was also authorised by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to load $849 479 into his visa cards for the importation of earth-moving equipment in the United States for construction at Gwanda Solar Project.
However, it was alleged Chivayo did not import anything.
As a result ZPC suffered prejudice of $5 607 814.24 and nothing was recovered.