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Chivayo’s Mnangagwa claims rattle govt

Local News
AN audio recording suspected to be of controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo claiming that President Emmerson Mnangagwa is firmly in his pockets has rattled ruling Zanu PF party and government officials who yesterday took to social media with cryptic messages.

AN audio recording suspected to be of controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo claiming that President Emmerson Mnangagwa is firmly in his pockets has rattled ruling Zanu PF party and government officials who yesterday took to social media with cryptic messages.

In the recording, someone believed to be Chivayo is heard boasting to fellow businessmen Moses Mpofu and Mike Chimombe, the pair he allegedly swindled in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) tender for the provision of voting material last year, that he is untouchable.

Chivayo allegedly got a windfall from the Zec deal worth US$40 million to supply electoral material for the August 2023 general elections.

The socialite, Chimombe and Mpofu, through Better Brands Security (Pvt) Ltd, entered into an agreement with Ren-Form CC on February 13, 2023 to participate in the electoral tenders.

It is alleged that working in cahoots with Ren-Form officials, Chivayo later fraudulently amended the agreement to remove his business partners before grabbing 66% of the payment.

“I have deals with the police, immigration and many more. Keep collecting, do not be greedy, just bring new work. There is no need to be greedy or trying aiming high,” Chivayo is heard boasting in the audio.

“I am holding this thing in my hand. When (Mnangagwa) went to Italy, I walked him to his airplane where he proceeded to bid farewell and called me his son.

“I am inside the President’s circle. Take advantage of that, do not eat from where I would have worked or from what caused problems for us in the past.”

However, Chivayo’s audio leaks seem to have miffed Zanu PF and government officials, with the two entities’ spokespersons yesterday taking to social media to call him to order.

In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, Zanu PF director for information Farai Marapira said the ruling party would soon put an end to Chivayo’s antics.

“As Zanu PF, we take notice of any snide insinuations made against our first secretary and president. We take seriously any and all attempts to reduce his standing and goodwill,” Marapira said.

“Our president is incapable of being captured and his history is too illustrious to be reduced by any supposed tomfoolery or overzealousness. We definitely will not allow that.

“We will not tolerate it nor stand by (and watch).”

Marapira had earlier on posted on his X (formerly Twitter) handle warning Chivayo against his actions, although he did not identify the businessman by name.

“There are some things that are played with and dithered with. Not our leader and president. There is one guaranteed thing about people on high horses ... They fall off ... Pride comes before a great fall,” Marapira said in the post.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana also posted a subtle dig attached to a man who resembles Chivayo on his official X account.

“Flying too close to the sun: Icarus was warned by his father not to fly too close to the sun, as the wax that his wings were made from would melt.

“But fuelled by the adrenaline rush of flying, Icarus failed to rein in his excitement and felt he was the man of the moment. He did not heed the warnings; Icarus was so intoxicated by the experience of flying and never thought he could tumble from this loft height, so he flew higher and higher getting closer and closer to the sun.

“The closer he came to the sun, the more the wax in his wings melted. He tumbled into the sea and drowned.”

Mangwana, however, refused to elaborate on his post when approached for comment by NewsDay yesterday.

“I have nothing to add. The X post was complete,” he curtly said.

In April this year, NewsDay reported that Vice-Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi were reportedly unhappy with Mnangagwa’s association with Chivayo.

The two vice-presidents were reportedly uncomfortable with Mnangagwa’s recent public appearances with the ex-convict.

Chivayo was not readily available for comment last night.

He was convicted of theft in 2004 and sentenced to three years in jail with labour.

Local media reported that he “unlawfully and with intent to steal” informed Digby Sean Nesbitt that he would deposit R837 000 (US$44 751) into Nesbitt’s bank account in South Africa in exchange for Z$37,6m (US$103 888), but he never did.

He served his sentence at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare.

In 2018, he was charged with corruption, but was acquitted in March 2023.

A Mnangagwa confidante, he has been winning questionable government contracts such as the US$172m Gwanda solar project and last year’s Zec materials deal.

His latest lucrative deal, through his IMC Communications (Pvt) Ltd, makes him the sole and exclusive partner of Starlink, a low earth orbit satellite operator owned by SpaceX, which belongs to the tech billionaire Elon Musk.

Chivayo has also been attending State functions and travelling with Mnangagwa, even though he is not a government official.

He claims to focus on renewable energy and owning businesses in neighbouring South Africa as well as Kenya and Tanzania.

His proximity to power is giving him privileges to travel with Mnangagwa in his helicopter and getting to welcome and dine with heads of State on official visits, including Kenyan President William Ruto in Bulawayo in April.

In May, Chivayo travelled to Uganda, where he met President Yoweri Museveni and to Tanzania for a meeting with President Samia Suluhu.

He claims that his company Intratrek Zimbabwe works with overseas companies from China and India.

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