Power utility ZESA paid controversial Harare tenderpreneur Wicknell Chivayo US$7million, parliament heard this Monday.
The payment, reportedly ordered by former energy minister Samuel Undenge, has been at the centre of corruption allegations at the parastatal.
Chivayo secured tenders worth hundreds of millions of dollars with ZESA subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), including the setting up of a 100-megawatt solar power plant in Gwanda.
However, allegations are that no work has been done on the projects despite the businessman being paid huge sums of money by ZPC.
It was initially reported that Chivayo was paid $5m. The businessman unashamedly flaunts his wealth and ties to former president Robert Mugabe’s family, on social media.
However, legislators were told Monday that he was paid much more at a hearing attended by new energy minister Simon Khaya Moyo.
“The total amount that was released was around $7 million, including Value Added Tax; it was disbursed in tranches,” said ZPC board chairman Stanley Kazhanje.
“The amount was paid by management and the figures were within their threshold as it did not require board approval. As a board, we discovered it from Press reports. There was no need for the issue to come to the board.”
ZPC managing director Noah Gwariro has since been suspended by the board to facilitate a forensic audit into the Chivayo deals.
However, minister Khaya Moyo said it was not proper that the ZPC board was effectively investigating itself.
“I do not think that the ZPC board can investigate itself. But Government, in any case, will act after the audit is completed,” said the minister.
“We were told of $5 million and I do not know about the $7 million. What we heard was that it was a directive from the Minister (Undenge), but now ZPC is not clear on what happened, and I am quite surprised.
“… after the forensic audit, whoever is responsible heads will roll. We can even dissolve the board; I do not think it is quite fair to take action when there are these investigations.
“The Auditor-General will look into all these issues, including the faulty pre-paid meters that we were reading about in the newspapers.”
The Chivayo deals have also attracted the interest of the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI) which recently ordered the businessman to handover bank statements and other documents related to his contracts with ZPC