BULAWAYO – Doors continue to be opened in the region for the controversial businessman, Wicknell Chivayo, who met Malawian President Peter Mutharika last week.
Chivayo posted pictures of himself meeting Mutharika on Facebook, just weeks after he met Zambian leader Edgar Lungu upon the completion of a power project carried out by his company in Zimbabwe’s northern neighbour.
The Intratrek Zimbabwe boss, who is currently mired in controversy at home over stalled power projects following legal wrangles with the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), was in Malawi where his technical partners Chint Electric of China have just completed four power projects.
Chint Electric, which is among the four largest companies in China and boasts an annual turnover of US$8 billion, constructed a substation and rehabilitated three others with funding from the United States government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Chivayo won tenders to construct a funded solar power plant in Gwanda (US$172 million), Gairezi hydro-power plant (US$248 million) and to refurbish Munyati thermal power station (US$163 million) to increase its generation capacity to 100MW.
Gairezi is at financial closure stage while Munyati is experiencing financing challenges over Zimbabwe’s sovereign risk, according to Chivayo.
The High Court nullified a decision by ZPC to cancel the Gwanda power project, in which Intratrek partnered with Chint Electric, after ruling that the ZESA subsidiary was in breach of its contract with Intratrek. ZPC must fulfil the contract or compensate Intratrek for US$25 million, a judge ruled.
A polarising figure in Zimbabwe, Chivayo – whose access to government contracts is linked to his Zanu PF godfathers – has splashed his millions on luxury cars and expensive shoes. The flashy businessman once gave US$1 million to the Zimbabwe national football team.
He has been seen meeting former President Robert Mugabe, current President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Kembo Mohadi.
In recent weeks, Chivayo has been sharing his political thoughts with searing criticism of the MDC’s planned protests which were banned by the police.
Malawi’s Mutharika is also facing protests at home after his narrow election victory in May. Chivayo praised Mutharika for his efforts to grow the economy.
“I spent the last five days in Malawi on a business trip and more importantly had to pass by and congratulate His Excellency the President of the Republic of Malawi Peter Mutharika on his victory in the recent elections,” Chivayo said in a Facebook post.
“He is indeed a wonderful father figure to us all Africans. As a long-time supporter of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), I commend his tireless efforts to grow the economy and redevelop Malawi to improve lives of the ordinary citizens. I’m proud to be part of his vision.”