ZIMBABWE Power Company (ZPC)’s renewable projects manager Cleophas Fambi told the High Court on Wednesday that businessman Wicknell Chivayo’s US$25 million lawsuit was overstated.
Fambi was testifying in the matterwhere Chivayo and his company Intratrek Zimbabwe are suing ZPC for US$25 million for terminating a contract for the US$173 million Gwanda solar power project.
Chivayo was awarded the tender, and he also received US$5,6 million pre-commencement fees without a bank guarantee and without any work done, resulting in ZPC cancelling the contract.
Leading evidence, Fambi stated that there were no major works done at the site despite Chivayo’s claims.
“US$2 million claimed for pre-commencement work is overstated because major work was not done. A lot is still yet to be done,” Fambi said.
Chivayo had told court that major works had been done as he appealed for a further two-week extension to complete the project.
“ZPC, from my understanding, had all intentions of carrying out this project and that’s why it entered into a contract with Intratrek Zimbabwe after a long time of consultations,” Fambi said.
“ZPC put its money and it paid. Paying is an indicator that one is interested in a project. We wanted it done and finished. ZPC also paid at the adendum level. I don't think anyone not interested would pay money.”
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But Chivayo said 90% of the project work had been done.
The businessman also claimed that he cleared 200 hectares of land from own coffers as no funds were availed by ZPC for the exercise.
The court heard that part of the work that was supposed to be done included the septic tank soakaway installation, but nothing was done. Intratrek was also supposed to put in place water storage and ablution and radio facilities, but this was not done too.
In his defence, Chivayo said: “Important things that consume huge amounts were completed, water provision costs less than US$5 000, septic and soakaway is also cheap and radio system installation only costs about US$600. These are minor things and will not take me more than a fortnight to complete.”
Chivayo said ground site clearing was expensive, costing him US$2 million.
Fambi, however, counter argued that land clearing was not expensive.
“Vegetation clearing was done 100%, civil work 0%. From my point of view, the majority of work is what remains. Civil work not yet done, this required more effort than vegetation clearing,” Fambi said.
High Court judge Justice Siyabona Musithu reserved judgment on the matter.