HARARE – An elite crime-busting unit run by government is going after flamboyant businessman Wicknell Chivayo over a string of energy deals entered with the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) — a unit of Zesa Holdings.
Controversy around the mega deals between ZPC and Intratrek Zimbabwe (Private) Limited — a company owned by Chivayo — is said to have aroused the interest of the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI), which falls under the ministry of Finance and Economic Development and reports directly to its secretary, Willard Manungo.
NECI has written to Chivayo, in his capacity as managing director of Intratrek, requesting that the businessman avails his company’s bank statements, cash books and documentation in relation to the energy deals.
“As part of an exercise that NECI is carrying out, may you avail the following documents for inspection: All contracts or agreements entered into with the Zimbabwe Power company, Intratrek Zimbabwe’s bank statements from January 2015 to date, cash books and all documents pertaining to the Gwanda Solar Project and Munyati Power station. An expeditious submission of the above will be appreciated,” reads part of the letter dated December 7, 2017.
NECI’s mandate is that of carrying out compliance checks on companies to ensure that the country is not prejudiced through prejudicial transfer pricing as well as unfair business practices such as externalisation.
Inspectors from NECI draw their powers from Section 5(1) (b) of the Bank Use Promotion Act Chapter 24:24, which gives them the power to monitor and enforce compliance with the said legislation.
They also operate within the confines of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, Chapter 9; 24 and in terms of Section 6 of the Bank Use Promotion Act Chapter 24:24.
The latest development comes as controversy has marred a 100 Megawatt Gwanda Solar Plant where a $5 million pay-out was made by the power utility to Intratrek without following proper procedures and despite Chivayo not providing a performance guarantee as required by law.
Intratrek has been awarded several tenders by ZPC.
These include the $200 million tender for the Gwanda Solar Project; a tender for the refurbishment of the Harare Power Station at a cost of $73 million, $163 million for the restoration of the Munyati Power Station, and $248 million for the Gairezi Power project.
Chivayo’s rivals have called on authorities to expedite their investigations into his company and establish how he won all the lucrative power tenders running into hundreds of millions of dollars.
Chivayo told the Daily News yesterday that there was nothing unusual about NECI’s request and he would avail the documents.
“Yes I got their letter. There is nothing unusual though about the department making a follow up on government projects. I am in constant discussions with them and I will give them what they have requested,” he said.
Zesa Holdings’ chief executive officer Josh Chifamba referred questions to the power utility’s board, chaired by former Finance minister Herbert Murerwa.
“You can get in touch with the board on that one,” he said.
Chifamba told the Daily News last week that the Zesa board was due to meet to deliberate on Chivayo’s projects, but refused to be drawn into disclosing whether the Intratrek managing director would be asked to return the $5 million he was given, insisting that the position would only be made clear after the board meeting.
The businessman has often set tongues wagging with Facebook posts of his expensive apparel, something that he does not make apologies about, as he also posts pictures spending loads of United States dollars.
Chivayo, who once served a jail term for fraud, has also in the past been pictured with former president Robert Mugabe in his offices, as well as with his then powerful wife Grace and son Robert Junior while on holiday in Dubai.
In a video posted on social media a few days after Mugabe had tendered his resignation, Chivayo bragged that he was one of the lucky few who had access to the former first family.
The colourful character also poured cold water on claims that he was the former first family’s “runner.”
As a businessman, the controversial socialite said it was in his interests to align himself with the ruling party.
He has since declared his full support for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s successor.
Chivayo seems to be on the list of people targeted under the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ “Operation Restore Legacy” targeting “criminal elements” around Mugabe.
Zimbabwe’s military reportedly detained the flashy businessman after a dawn raid on his Harare home last week, almost a month after seizing power.
While his lawyers have denied that he was ever detained for whatever reason, the Daily News had it on good authority that his “captors” wanted to ask the businessman a few questions before releasing him the following day.
The military’s interest in the matter reportedly stems from the draft impeachment motion of Mugabe which accused the former Zanu PF leader of being a “source of instability”, flouting the rule of law by refusing to hold to account Energy minister Samuel Undenge’s alleged scandal at Zesa Holdings, involving Chivayo.
“Further concerned that the president has not taken any meaningful steps to stem endemic corruption which has become the country’s number one enemy like evidenced in the Zesa case where his Cabinet minister approved the transfer of $5 million without following provisions laid down in the Public Finance Management Act; therefore calls upon this House to cause the removal of the president from office in light of the above and that voting in the motion of no confidence in the president be by secret ballot,” the draft motion read.
Mugabe subsequently resigned, abruptly halting the impeachment hearing that had begun against him, and drawing the curtain on his 37-year rule and sparking unrestrained celebrations in the nation’s streets.