In 2013 Wicknell Chivayo a convicted fraudster and a politically exposed individual was awarded the Gwanda solar project under very fishy circumstances. Yesterday the Supreme court finally yanked the project from him but irreparable damage has already been done to Zimbabwe, her citizens and the image of ZESA the country’s sole power utility company.
Chivayo was given US$5 million as prepayment but did little work to show for it. It’s not clear how he spent the money as a site inspection revealed he had only cleared a small portion of land and built a few tin structures work that could barely cost US$100 000 if that at all. The project is now in doldrums and ZESA following intense public outcry reluctantly wanted out of the project.
Chivayo would have none of it, he actually wanted more taxpayer money as he said he could continue with the project. He accused ZESA of breach of contract and took them to the High Court where the court, in a very bizarre judgement agreed. The court actually wanted Chivayo to be paid even more money but again due to public pressure, ZESA took to the case to the Supreme Court. Yesterday the Supreme Court sided with ZESA and voided the tender.
Chivayo might have to pay back the money
In the wake of the ruling, most people started celebrating the ruling claiming that Chivayo would be required to pay back the money he received from ZESA. The truth is even if he is asked to payback the money Chivayo will only have to pay back about US$50 000 (at black market rates). This is thanks to another bizarre ruling made by the Supreme Court in a separate case where they ruled that USD contracts entered to before the government finally conceded that the rate is no longer 1:1 have to be paid in ZWL.
Never mind that Chivayo received the tender and money well before the RTGS and bond notes era. This will not even be the first time Chivayo profits from taxpayers. He is also listed as a beneficiary of the Farm mechanisation programme from 2008 where he received about US$50 000. Despite him constantly boasting he is rich and showing off with money on social media, Chivayo’s debt and that of many elites was forgiven by the government who claimed these individuals could no longer pay.