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Zimbabwe: Gwanda solar project not making progress

After three years that renewable energy developer Intratrek and ZPC signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for the 100MW Gwanda solar project, there has not been much development.

The $200 million Gwanda solar project has collapsed as controversial businessman and managing director, Wicknell Chivayo, has expressed fears that the fraud and corruption charges levelled against him by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) will discourage potential project funders resulting in the termination of funding negotiations.

In a letter seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, it reveals that Chivayo believes ZPC has breached the contract between the two parties by calling in investigators.

Intratrek has already been paid $2 million to carry out a feasibility study and $5 million for site establishment works, ground clearance and construction access roads at the project site, despite not having a bank guarantee.

Up until now, nothing meaningful has been done at the site, media highlighted. Read more: Three solar projects on the cards

According to the Herald, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has denied having played a role in the controversial awarding of a 100MW solar project tender to the firm.

Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndhukula wrote a letter to Parliament saying the OPC did not play any role in the awarding of the tender by ZPC and the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (formerly State Procurement Board) in 2015.

ZPC violating provisions of EPC contract

Meanwhile, Chivayo accuses ZPC of violating provisions of the EPC contract to evade liability from a government probe.

“In the process of doing so the employer has callously demonstrated its disregard of the principle of sanctity and privity of contact which the EPC contract is fully subject to,” Chivayo said.

According to the Zimbabwe Independent, Chivayo is accusing ZPC of disclosing and volunteering “unsolicited” confidential information to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and financial institutions who are key in the funding of the EPC contract, prejudicing his company.

“Equally damaging has been the employer’s negligent leakage of the confidential information into the public domain in a manner calculated at inviting undeserved censure and condemnation of the contractor and its managing director as a fraudulent, corrupt and duplicitous organisation bent on unduly benefitting from state funds,” Chivayo said.

Executing ground work

In defence of the funds paid to him, Chivayo said the contract states that prior to the commencement of the EPC contract, the employer and the contractor may, subject to availability of funds agree to undertake all or part of the initial activities following the contract’s effective date.

He said the feasibility study was carried out consequently and in compliance with the provisions of the contract and was dutifully certified by ZPC’s executive management.

He further stated that site establishment works were carried out and ZPC paid the sub-contractors directly.

The works, according to Chivayo, were to be completed on or before December 31 2017, but the time frame for the implementation was delayed and hindered as a result of ZPC’s “unwarranted and uncontractual” institution of “speculative and fictitious” criminal charges against him.

“As a direct result therefore, the subcontractor’s limbo and anxiety with regards the credibility, veracity and ultimate outcome of matter stalled progress on site and the due date for completion became impracticable,” he said.

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.