PARLIAMENT heard yesterday that controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo was back on the site earmarked for the Gwanda solar project at a time legislators were still investigating circumstances leading to his awarding of the multi-million-dollar job without going to tender.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy, Temba Mliswa, expressed shock at the development and threatened to summon President Emmerson Mnangagwa to shed light over the matter.
Mliswa was left seething with anger during a hearing attended by senior Zesa Holdings executives, workers as well as former Energy deputy minister Munacho Mutezo and blew his top after Energy ministry secretary Patson Mbiriri confirmed that Chivayo’s company, Intratrek, was back on site clearing land for the project launch.
“As a result of the national concern about lack of progress on the preliminary works, the contractor has gone back on site. The last report was that they have cleared 75 hectares out of the 200,” Mbiriri said.
To this, a visibly exasperated Mliswa retorted: “I hope I am not dreaming, which contractor is this?”
Then the response from Mbirimi: “Yes, the contractor Intratek.”
Other committee members also grilled Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) officials to explain why they had decided to retain Chivayo to deliver the project when it was clear he had failed.
Mbirimi added: “I have indicated that, as a result of the nationwide concern emanating from this august committee, the contractor has moved back on site. Unless the contract had been cancelled, the contractor had every legal right to move back on site and is undertaking the work that I have indicated.”
Peeved by Mbirimi’s responses, a miffed Mliswa budged in, saying: “This is time to call the President [Emmerson Mnangagwa] to come to Parliament and respond to this. It’s absurd. It’s unbelievable. This is taxpayers’ money.
“What is the difference between the old and new dispensation? Zimbabwe is open for criminals to do business and I think the President must allude to that. You are entrusting a criminal with State funds. You are coming back here before next week. We will not accept a situation where people’s money goes to waste. In claiming to address the situation, you are actually empowering the criminal.”
ZPC board chair Stanley Kazhanje said his board had not sanctioned Intratrek’s return to the project site, with managing director Joshua Chirikuutsi admitting that they had allowed Chivayo to resume his project because “his contract was still subsisting, even to this day”.
Mliswa argued that the Gwanda project was no exception, as government had cancelled other bigger contracts like “Geiger” on the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway because of non-performance.
Earlier, Mliswa had ordered former Energy minister Elton Mangoma to leave the House after the latter declined to introduce himself as an ex-Cabinet minister.