Zimbabwean Tycoon Wicknell Chivayo’s Lavish Spending Spurs Scrutiny Over Wealth Sources

Wicknell Chivayo
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HARARE – Flamboyant Zimbabwean businessman Wicknell Chivayo’s extravagant spending on luxury cars, an imposing mansion, and large cash donations has raised questions about the origins of his wealth.

The NewsHawks is investigating the financial trail behind Chivayo’s lavish lifestyle to uncover the source of his funds.

Chivayo, a controversial figure with a criminal record, has recently gained attention for donating cars to high-profile individuals and making substantial cash contributions to various organizations. In January alone, he gifted 50 Toyota Aqua vehicles worth US$400,000 to members of his congregation. His own collection of luxury cars includes a fleet of supercars and six all-white imported vehicles valued at US$3.5 million.

His Hollywood-style mansion in Harare’s Gletwyn suburb, furnished by South Africa’s Norman Bakos Signature Collection, further showcases his wealth. Despite comparisons to former police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri’s estate, Chivayo insists his property is a separate entity built from scratch.

The source of Chivayo’s wealth appears to be state tenders, specifically from the state-owned power utility Zesa and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). His deals with the ZEC remain undisclosed, prompting further investigation by The NewsHawks.

Chivayo’s company, Intratrek Zimbabwe, has secured significant government contracts, including a US$5.8 million solar power project and a US$173 million contract for the Gwanda Solar Project. Despite receiving substantial payments, Chivayo has failed to deliver on the Gwanda project, leading to fraud allegations and a court battle that ultimately resulted in his acquittal.

Intratrek executed pre-commencement works using funds provided by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), a Zesa subsidiary. These payments constitute less than 5% of the total contract value of US$172.8 million. Critics argue that Chivayo’s close ties with President Emmerson Mnangagwa facilitated these contracts, raising concerns about cronyism and corruption.

Chivayo’s recent donations extend beyond cars. He contributed US$1 million to the Zion Christian Church during its Easter Passover festival, a gesture announced by the church’s leader, Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi. This act of philanthropy, however, has not alleviated public skepticism about his financial dealings.

The NewsHawks is using advanced digital tools and investigative techniques to trace Chivayo’s financial transactions. The aim is to uncover hidden sources of wealth, often concealed in real estate, luxury assets, and ostentatious public displays.

Chivayo’s case exemplifies “crony capitalism” or “political entrepreneurship,” where individuals leverage political connections to secure business deals and accumulate wealth. This practice undermines fair competition, perpetuates corruption, and erodes public trust in both government and business.

As calls for greater transparency and accountability grow, it is crucial for the Zimbabwean government to ensure that contracts are awarded openly and fairly, without undue influence or favoritism. Promoting economic growth and restoring public trust require a commitment to transparent and equitable procurement processes.

Chivayo’s conspicuous wealth and the lack of transparency surrounding his financial activities underscore the need for rigorous scrutiny and reform in Zimbabwe’s business and political landscape.