HARARE – Harare businessman Wicknell Chivayo, will have to fight for his freedom from remand prison after he was denied bail yesterday on grounds that he was a flight risk.
Chivayo and his company — Intratek Zimbabwe (Private) Limited — are being charged with fraud, money laundering and contravening two sections of the Exchange Control Act.
Chivayo, who brags about his connections in high offices, appeared before Harare provincial magistrate Elisha Singano in his casual wear and usual bubbly mood and was remanded in custody to August 17.
This was after the State successfully challenged his admission to bail on the basis that he attempted to flee the country.
Chivayo had offered to surrender his passport as well as abiding by terms that may have been preferred by the court.
He had also argued that he returned to Zimbabwe from the United States on July 28 well aware that he was being sought by the police in connection with the case.
However, Singano ruled in favour of the State which had argued that Chivayo faces a serious case which could see him facing a lengthy time in prison if convicted.
Singano also considered that Chivayo was arrested at the airport fleeing to South Africa and to release him at this stage would undermine the proper administration of justice.
He added that Chivayo was facing a serious offence which involved public funds and that the State had a strong case against him.
The flamboyant businessman is set to seek recourse at the High Court.
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.
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 of lies that were flying around and could only be verified through proper channels.
Chivayo, 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 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 US 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.
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 Chivayo 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.