The Minister of Power and Energy, Fortune Chasi, has fervently argued in a Twitter thread and in state media convicted fraudster Wicknell Chivayo must be allowed to continue with the stalled Gwanda 100 MW solar project. He said this while defending the letter which he wrote to ZESA instructing them to drop litigation against Mr Chivayo. The later was recently leaked to the media and drew the ire of the public.

All we have said is that we cannot tolerate ZESA being in court for more than five years without the power project going on. Government is the sole shareholder there and I have a mandate, as Energy Minister, to deliver sufficient power.

Part of Hon Chasi’s defence

In defending his position he said he was being pragmatic blaming the failure to complete the project on the ongoing dispute between Chivayo’s company and ZESA. This is despite the obvious fact that tender laws were flouted and Mr Chivayo’s company was given a payment of around $5 million US dollars with little to show for it.

It boggles the mind that the government entered into a contract with a convicted fraudster with little experience in the solar field. In fact research at the time of the publication has shown that Mr Chivayo’s company has no track record of ever having build a solar plant of anywhere near the size of the Gwanda solar project. In fact when it was awarded the contract it had barely any Zimbabwean presence and a hastily created website.

This fits the pattern of recently exposed corrupt dealings involving government contracts being awarded to what are essentially “shelf” companies linked to politically exposed persons and or their relatives. Often inflated prices are paid out. Minister Chasi cannot explain why the government has not cancelled their contract with Mr Chivayo’s company and gone with other proven contractors.

Should we completely ignore the fact that experts like Victor Utedzi (African Transmission Corporation), who recently delivered 5MW through a photovoltaic centre grid in Nyabira, have promised that within six months they will deliver the first 10MW.

Mr Chasi’s other remarks on the matter

Mr Chasi convieniently overlooks a few facts: Mr Utedzi is an expert, Wicknell Chivayo is most certainly not, Mr Utedzi’s company has delivered in a few months using less money what Mr Chivayo was not able to do in years and to the best of our knowledge Mr Utedzi is not a convicted fraudster.