HARARE – The State has accused jet-setting Harare businessman Wicknell Chivayo of seeking to evade justice by approaching higher offices for assistance after getting wind of his intended arrest.
Chivayo and his company — Intratek Zimbabwe (Private) Limited — are being charged with fraud, money laundering and contravening two sections of the Exchange Control Act.
During his bail hearing at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts on Saturday, prosecutor Michael Reza, said after becoming aware that he was wanted by the police, Chivayo through his lawyer Wilson Manase had sought to approach several high offices for assistance to avoid being arrested.
Through his lawyer, Chivayo wrote to acting Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi, enquiring about the impending arrest, further stating that the case was not criminal but civil in nature.
The letter was also copied to commissioner general of police Godwin Matanga, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) chairperson Job Whabira, Zacc commissioner Goodson Nguni and the permanent secretary in the Justice ministry.
“When you wrote this letter you knew fully well that he (Chivayo) was wanted and you were seeking assistance from senior offices so that your client does not find himself in the situation he is in right now?” Reza questioned Manase during the bail hearing.
Manase, however, said as an experienced lawyer with 34 years in practice, he was fully aware that there was no need for him to protect his client.
He said he only protects his client from wrong behaviour.
Manase said he wrote the letter based on a news article that appeared in the State media, and wanted to verify if this was the correct position, adding that there were a lot lies that were flying around and could only be verified through proper channels.
Chivayo, who brags about his connections in high offices, came under pressure in recent months to defend the power deals that he signed with power utility Zesa Holdings and its subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).
This was after it had emerged that Intratek had failed to deliver on the contracts.
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.
Chivayo, who over the past few months seemed untouchable and bragged about flying first class and known for splashing wads of United States dollars on social media, was said to have been advanced $5 million for the project’s pre-commencement works.
The businessman, who often posts pictures of himself with senior ruling Zanu PF officials such as president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Kembo Mohadi among others, will know his fate pertaining to the bail application today.
The State is alleging 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 allegedly converted or transferred the money into various individual and company accounts.
He was also authorised by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to load $849 479 into his visa cards for the importation of earth-moving equipment in the US for construction works 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.