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Gwanda solar project: Ex-ZPC board chair jailed

By Fidelis Munyoro

Former Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) board chair Stanley Kazhanje will now have to serve his three-year-jail term after the High Court on appeal found overwhelming evidence proving that he concealed his prior involvement in the Gwanda Solar Project.

Stanley Kazhanje and Wicknell Chivayo
Stanley Kazhanje and Wicknell Chivayo

The ruling yesterday comes after Kazhanje appealed against conviction and a three-year imprisonment imposed on him for failure to declare to his principal, a US$10 000 personal transaction involving him and Intratrek Zimbabwe, fronted by Mr Wicknell Chivayo.

Now that Kazhanje has lost his appeal, he will effectively start serving his jail term.

It was not clear by close of business yesterday if he had complied with law.

In October last year Kazhanje hogged the limelight for wrong reasons when he attempted to outfox the justice system by applying for bail pending appeal against his conviction and jail term while in the comfort of his home.

However, this backfired when an alert High Court judge noticed it and ordered his incarceration.

Kazhanje had not handed himself in when his appeal against both conviction and sentence last month was struck off by the High Court because it was defective and bad at law.

He instead filed a fresh application for bail pending appeal from his home.

He was later granted the relief he sought while in custody.

Kazhanje was in September 2019 convicted after a full trial by retired senior regional magistrate Mr Hosea Mujaya and sentenced to three years in jail before suspending two years on condition of good behaviour.

The magistrates court convicted him on the basis that by chairing ZPC board meetings without disclosing that he had rendered consultancy services to Intratrek in respect of the Gwanda Solar Project, Kazhanje had corruptly done so with the intention to deceive the power utility board.

On appeal, Justice Benjamin Chikowero sitting with Justice Felistus Chatukuta, who has since been elevated to the Supreme Court bench upheld the trial court decision.

In dismissing the appeal in its entirety yesterday, Justice Chikowero ruled that there was overwhelming documentary and oral evidence proving that Kazhanje concealed his prior involvement in the Gwanda Solar Project.

“My view is that the prosecution did not need the aid of the presumption in the circumstances of this matter,” he said.

“All the same, I am satisfied that the magistrate was right in effectively finding that the appellant (Kazhanje) failed to rebut the presumption that the appellant’s intention in not disclosing his interest was intended to deceive the principal.”

It was established during his trial that Kazhanje was a director and chairperson of ZPC and he chaired various board meetings which deliberated on issues to do with Gwanda Solar Project, beginning with approval of the contract between ZPC and Intratrek right up to the party’s performance of their contractual obligations.

And a finding was made in the lower court that Kazhanje chaired the meetings in question without disclosing to the ZPC Board that he had rendered consultancy to Intratrek in respect of the same project, to which he received US10 000.

In his ruling, Justice Chikowero said even if the transaction was viewed as the project itself, the judge was satisfied that the conviction was still sound.

The trial court heard that on January 21, 2016, and under unclear circumstances, Kazhanje received US$10 000 into his First Capital Bank personal account from Intratrek’s CBZ Bank account.

Kazhanje failed to declare his interests and presided over a meeting where the power utility resolved to directly pay Intratrek subcontractors instead of terminating the contract.

ZPC went on to pay $4 387 849 as advance payment despite Intratrek’s failure to fulfil its obligation.

The court heard that Kazhanje was influenced by this payment to decide in favour of Intratrek. The Herald