Energy minister Samuel Undenge has virtually leapt to businessman Wicknell Chivayo’s defence and affirmed that Intratrek Zimbabwe (Intratrek)’s Gwanda project, among other energy deals, was above board and steaming ahead.
This comes amid serious calls for a review of the flamboyant businessman’s power agreement with the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) on the basis of his legal troubles and history.
“Contractors for the three solar projects were selected through a competitive tendering process conducted by the State Procurement Board (SPB) (and) a total of six bidders responded to the request for proposals..,” Undenge said last week, adding the stringent process also required a demonstration for technical, financial and pricing capabilities.
“On technical experience, bidders were instructed to provide a list of reference plants and contractors’ involvement (engineering, procurement and construction experience), and manufacturers as well as principals’ letters of authorisation,” the minister said.
“Under funding, bidders had to demonstrate their… ability and state suggested percentage finance offered (in relation to EPC value).
“They also had to demonstrate their level of credit approval or certainties of financing offered and (provide) proof. Tenor and pricing of debt and fees, conditions and security… (and) experience of EPC contractor of consortium in providing this type of financing…,” Undenge said, adding the 300 megawatt(MW) solar projects were then awarded after Intratrek, Number 17 Metallurgical and ZTE Corporation had met the criteria.
However, some people at Zesa Holdings —which is ZPC’s parent — want Chivayo’s company kicked out.
While pressure has been mounting for Herbert Murerwa-led company to act, some SPB insiders said Intratrek had performed “exceptionally well” in terms of its presentations and such that it even outclassed big international corporates, and entities, which fell by the wayside at preliminary multistage-adjudication process.
For instance, the company’s technical partner for its Matabeleland South solar project is Chint – a Shanghai-listed behemoth with billions of dollars in assets — and a recent feasibility study by the Shanghai Electric Power Design Institute also showed its viability.
Besides Gwanda, Intratrek has also won the 30MW Gairezi hydro-project after joining forces with India’s Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited — a global giant with a $4 billion balance sheet.
In Africa, the company has recently commissioned a similar-sized power project at Nyaborongo Dam in Rwanda and an issue, which might have persuaded the SPB to award Intratrek and its partners again based on their technical capabilities.
Chivayo’s company is also running for the 100MW Munyati Thermal repowering project, although it awaits ZPC’s go ahead since it is still evaluating progress related to Harare power station’s rehabilitation that was farmed out or contracted to Jaguar Overseas Limited.
However, the minister’s statements effectively end the uncertainty around Intratrek’s projects and at the same time bring a ray of hope for Zimbabweans to see an end to the energy crisis, and power imports.
Meanwhile, legal experts have said the company’s track record was sound and there is a clear distinction between its officers, including Chivayo — a known socialite, and benefactor of the Warriors – and its legal persona.
“The persecution of companies based on certain directors’ history is not only unconstitutional, but illogical and counter-productive as well since companies are separate from individuals. Besides their legal persona, these vindictive missions can actually open a pandora’s box of litigation against awarding parties such as Zesa,” they said.
According to a legal opinion given to ZPC, the chances of it successfully cancelling its agreements with Intratrek were slim since “the acts of a company can be set apart from those who incorporate it”, including Chivayo.
“To put it differently, the fact that he (Chivayo) may not be validly in office does not affect the conclusion of an agreement… in terms of section 170 of the Companies Act,” it said. daily news