Controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo yesterday pleaded for mercy from The Herald after the paper published a number of articles exposing how the Zimbabwe Power Company unprocedurally paid him $5 million for the 100-Megawatt Gwanda solar project.
ZPC,reportedly at the instigation of Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge, paid the money for pre-commencement works on the project without Chivayo’s Intratek Zimbabwe (the contractor) submitting a
bank guarantee to safeguard public funds.
ZPC currently does not have a mechanism in place to recover the money in the event Intratek Zimbabwe defaults on the $200 million contract.Dr Undenge and Zesa chief executive Engineer Josh Chifamba have conceded bungling,
which was done without the knowledge of the ZPC board.
Chivayo,who also admitted his inability to raise a bank guarantee, yesterday sent WhatsApp messages to this reporter saying he was tired of appearingin the press every day and called for what he called “ceasefire”.“China Exim (Bank) is calling, Bank of China is calling, they have Google alerts, they are reading your articles everyday,” he said.
“It is detrimental to the project. It is now looking as though the one million (dollars) I poured into ZIFA was from ZPC when in actual fact they were my small savings. I understand that but I am saying you win. You have made a point. We sincerely apologise to you for not submitting the guarantee as you expected. That oversight will be corrected in future, CEASEFIRE.”
He went on: “You cannot write the same story 20 times. I give you all the credit you deserve. I just won another small tender for $35 million in Zambia. I can’t even celebrate, you have haunted me.My phone is blowing up every morning. It is 12 o’clock (noon) and I am sitting in the sun at home. I hope that makes you happy that you have
stressed a millionaire.”
Chivayo said The Herald needed to appreciate that he was putting $1 million from his pocket towards pre-commencement works. “Your articles suggest that I have been paid and disappeared,” he said.
“(ZPC) management are not stupid. You are dealing with experienced technocrats. Regardless of all the ex-convict headlines you might overemphasise, they can see for themselves that this guy knows what he is doing.
“Right from the tender submission, my presentation was impeccable so at times common sense applies. You are ruthless. We are all Zimbabweans. Be patriotic and watch the project success, which is inevitable. You are making the business environment difficult. It’s bad enough, we have serious sovereign risk which makes it extremely difficult to access lines of credit. You are making it worse. The person who will suffer is the ordinary Zimbabwean.”
Added Chivayo: “You are well paid and I am going to be rich forever – contracts or no contracts. Who are you
punishing? I have gone through three ministers on this project and not on one instance did I ever need a favour from them. You work for a State paper, but you are attacking an innocent Minister every single day.”
When told that the problem was not with the award of the tender but a bank guarantee as security, Chivayo responded: “You are stubborn. I have been texting you (for) 30 minutes and your response is the same—you didn’t
submit a bond.
“You would make a good lawyer, you are wasting talent. There is no room for growth in journalism and I think that’s why most of you are malicious. Your dream is possibly to be the Editor one day and never to have a million dollars in your bank account, let alone owning your own newspaper. Look beyond journalism. I just disregard personal attacks on one person out of an estimated 13 million Zimbabweans. I had a million dollars when I was 23 years. You can make a million dollars. It’s dot difficult at all. Just that your first is always the hardest. To make you happy from now on, I will submit bonds. Having said that, I hope and pray you will find it in your heart to forgive me for not submitting the bond as stipulated by the contract.”
Chivayo also took time to speak about his past criminal record as well as his support for the Zimbabwe national soccer team.“We win (sic) 2-nil yesterday and are going to destroy Malawi on Sunday,” he said.
“My players are stressed I could wake up withdrawing my support. I could see them sympathising with me yesterday. For the record, being an ex-convict is not the end of the world. As a Zimbabwean you must celebrate, I will never ever have to commit crime in my life. Zimbabwe Prison Service slogan says for ‘the successful rehabilitation and
reintegration of offenders into the society’. In America they call it correctional facilities meaning you are being corrected and taught the right things in life. I am a devoted Christian and success is inevitable
for me because I believe so with every fibre of my being. This is God’s plan not mine, my brother.”
ZPC management has accused Dr Undenge of pressuring them to make the payment but the Minister denies any wrong doing. Dr Undenge accuses ZPC officials of failing to follow laid down procedures.