THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings (Zesa) board will meet next week to deliberate on energy contracts awarded to dodgy businessman Wicknell Chivayo (pictured) amid reports parliament will soon move a motion requesting the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to cancel energy deals that were awarded to his Intratrek company, the Zimbabwe Independent has heard.
By Elias Mambo
This comes at a time ZPC is moving to mobilise resources for the project as announced by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa during his 2018 budget presentation in parliament yesterday.
Furthermore, implementation of the Gwanda Solar Energy Project will commence in 2018, following the granting of incentives to the ZPC to enable it mobilise funding from the market. At least US$66,7 million will be mobilised during 2018, focusing on construction of a 25MW solar plant under Phase I of the project,” Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said. Chivayo was awarded the US$200 million Gwanda solar project, the US$73 million refurbishment of the Harare Power Station, a US$163 million project to restore Munyati Power Station as well as the US$248 million Gairezi Project, but has failed to deliver.
The Energy ministry in October ordered ZPC to subcontract the Gwanda project after Intratrek failed to implement the controversial deal, despite receiving a US$5 million advance payment without a bank guarantee — against the standing rules. ZPC wants the US$5 million back.
The Gwanda Project is part of three controversial solar projects, each generating 100 megawatts, which were approved by government.
The initial cost, as of 2014, was US$183 million for each of the projects, bringing the total cost to US$549 million.
Soon after being awarded the tenders, the winning companies demanded price escalations, resulting in the projects ballooning to a total cost of US$720 million.
In an interview this week, the Zesa group chief executive officer Josh Chifamba said his organisation will meet next Friday to deliberate on Chivayo’s deals.
“The board is meeting next week and top of the agenda are the Chivhayo deals,” Chifamba said. “The tender process was above board but we are not happy with the way the former minister (Samuel Undenge) pushed for the advance payment of US$5 million without a bank guarantee.”
Investigations by this newspaper revealed that despite being given an advance payment of US$5 million, Chivayo did not commence any work at his Gwanda solar project site.
Parliamentary sources this week said a motion will soon be moved to direct ZPC to cancel the deals controversially awarded to Chivayo. Parliamentarians will also request that he pay back the US$5 million he was paid in advance without a bank guarantee.
“We will summon ZPC to parliament so that they explain how they issued Chivayo the energy contracts and also urge the power company to make sure that Chivayo pays back the US$5 million,” said a legislator.
Chivayo was paid US$5 million upfront before commencing work at the behest of Undenge, despite failing to do any meaningful work on site.
A year after winning the multi-million-dollar tender and despite getting the US$5 million payment for pre-commencement works, Intratrek Zimbabwe reportedly abandoned the project site after only three months’ work, it has emerged.
The US$5 million covered feasibility studies, topographical surveys, borehole sinking, site clearance, geo-technical surveying, site fencing, wayleaves and construction of administrative structures.
Last year, the Independent reported that Zimbabwe’s power generation projects have been inflated by more than US$500 million, raising suspicion that Zesa managers and senior government officials could have corruptly benefitted through price escalations.
Zesa has been endlessly rocked by massive tender scandals in which government entrusted the country’s critical multi-billion-dollar energy projects to dodgy businessmen who have criminal records, ranging from fraud to drug trafficking.