Nehanda|At an estimated USD$10 000 a day, flamboyant businessman and Intratrek Zimbabwe Managing Director Wicknell Chivayo has hired one of South Africa’s best lawyers in Advocate Francois Joubert SC to beef up his legal team comprising Wilson Manase and Advocate Lewis Uriri.
A slew of cases against the businessman have been crumbling like a deck of cards in the courts but he has had to deal with a string of appeals that many feel have little chance of success.
Joubert, a practicing advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa will represent Chivayo in cases between him and the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), a Supreme Court appeal and another one in which he is being jointly charged with former ZPC board chairperson, Stanley Kazhanje.
Nehanda Radio understands Chivayo had initially filed an urgent chamber application with the High Court seeking nullification of a decision by the Justice Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi who had denied Joubert a residential exemption certificate so that he can practice in Zimbabwe. We understand Chivayo has since withdrawn his application after the Minister submitted a favourable affidavit.
Chivayo rose to fame after winning various government tenders worth USD$600 million dollars. The primary accusation thrown at him was that he leveraged his close relationship with former President Robert Mugabe’s family to get the tenders, an accusation he strongly denies.
Some of the tenders he won were the Gwanda 100 MW solar ($202 million) with his technical partner Shanghai giants Chint Electric Co Ltd, Munyati refurbishment 100 MW ($113 million) with Indian partners Jaguar Overseas, Gairezi Hydro 30 MW Bharat heavy Equipment Limited at ($112 million) and Harare Repowering ($171 million dollars) with Jaguar Overseas Ltd.
After the November 2017 military coup that toppled Mugabe, Chivayo’s legal problems began. Some of the cases brought against him appeared frivolous or without evidence. The cases predictably collapsed in court with stinging rebukes coming from judges who were not amused.
A defiant Chivayo has continued to fight successfully after winning all his High Court cases and being acquitted by regional magistrate Morgan Nemadire.
Ten days ago Chivayo took another giant step towards quashing all the cases against or involving him before the courts after a judge granted $1 000 bail pending appeal to the former Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) board chairman Stanley Kazhanje.
Kazhanje was convicted and sentenced to an effective one-year jail term for allegedly concealing a US$10 000 payment from Chivayo, the Intratrek Zimbabwe chief executive. It is the reasons given by Justice Amy Tsanga in granting bail however that will have cheered both Kazhanje and Chivayo.
Justice Tsanga noted that Kazhanje may not have disclosed his past relations with Intratrek but it equally could not have been said on the basis of facts that were argued, that he had an interest in the transaction, being the Gwanda Solar Project.
“Strictly speaking, there was no evidence placed before the court a quo that he had a personal interest in the Gwanda solar project,” she said.
“The prospects of success on conviction are, in my view, therefore, not manifestly doomed to failure. If there is a possibility of conviction being set aside, it stands to reason that so will sentence.”
Last month a ‘ray of light’ in the saga emerged as construction at the Gwanda Solar Farm resumed with Chivayo personally on site to supervise progress. This was after High Court judge Tawanda Chitapi’s ruling wherein he ordered Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and Intratrek Zimbabwe to find common ground with a view of fast tracking completion of the solar power project.
The judge submitted that ZPC and Intratrek must not “merry dance in boardrooms and court rooms but must go to successfully implement the project for the benefit of Zimbabwe” adding that the power to be generated was not for use by Wicknell Chivayo and Intratrek but for the nation at large.
ZPC had a pending appeal at the Supreme Court whose motive Justice Chitapi described as “improper.” “It is disgraceful that national projects are stalled by contracting parties having merry dances in boardrooms instead of project sites and seeing the project to fruition,” the judge said.
“The public wants electricity for use at home and in industries. The public is not interested in bickering for self-interest and egos on the part of State actors and their contractors.”
If ZPC wished to cancel the contract, the judge said, it had to pay Intratrek US$25 million dollars in damages.
“It has already been observed that the subject matter of the contract is of national importance. It is of public interest. The public wants electricity for use at home and in industries.
The public is not interested in bickering for self-interest and egos on the part of State actors and their contractors,” Justice Chitapi said. Nehanda Radio