By Tendai Kamhungira
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, will spend the weekend behind bars after Harare magistrate Elisha Singano deferred his bail ruling to tomorrow.
Chivayo and his company Intratek Zimbabwe (Private) Limited are being charged with fraud, money laundering and contravening two sections of the Exchange Control Act.
His lawyer Lewis Uriri argued in bail application that the State will not secure a conviction on the charges. He demanded the release of his client on bail, arguing that it is a statutory entitlement.
“The Constitution provides for the right to liberty and that liberty cannot be interfered with without just cause,” Uriri said, adding that an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty and as such must be entitled to release on bail.
He said instead of arresting his client, the State must have proceeded by way of summons, considering that he has been before the court on the same allegations and the agreement then was that he would be summoned when needed.
“It is unlikely that there can be any conviction on these contrived and confused assertions,” he said.
He said his client was not a flight risk and that he will not interfere with evidence as had been alleged by the State. He said, Chivayo knew of the allegations a year ago but has been in and out of the country, but never decided to abscond.
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 which Michael Reza is prosecuting.
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 he 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. Daily News