- I never asked the courts to drop criminal charges against Chivayo
- I am mandated to provide power and that is all I need
ENERGY and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi has broken his silence over his involvement in the controversial 100 MW solar power plant Gwanda project, Zim Morning Post can report.
Chasi was sucked in the murky deal after he allegedly wrote a letter to ZESA chairman Sydney Gata on May 26, advising the power utility to abandon the fraud charges because the government “cannot afford the luxury of continued litigation.”
This stance was widely viewed by analysts as a ‘compromised postion’.
In an exclusive interview with Zim Morning Post on Wednesday, Chasi did not sway from his position that ‘power is not manufactured in the courts, but at power stations’.
“My mandate is to make sure we have power and as I mentioned power is not manufactured in courts, it’s done at the power station.
“We can’t be held at ransom by the two parties: whether it’s Intratrek or Zesa.
“You need to remember that the contract in question was concluded and signed in 2015 and its now five years now, we still have nothing to show and I can’t fold my hands and wait for the courts,” Chasi said.
Chasi categorically stated that he acted within his mandate as an Energy minister and never asked Zesa to drop criminal charges against Intratrek but his worry was the continued delay of power production.
“Let me address to the apparent confusion, I never asked anyone let alone Zesa to drop the charges against Chivayo, I haven’t done that and I am not going to do that .
“The prosecutor in this matter is the NPA and it is seized with the matter, it is dominus litis, I am not interested in the criminal matter, I’m interested in production of power at Gwanda,” he explained.
Chasi said he in fact acted in upholding the lower court ruling which ordered Chivayo and Zesa to sit down and discuss.
He brokered a meeting between the two parties last week, before the latest Supreme Court ruling which reinstated fraud charges against Chivayo.
“Justice Chitapi’s ruling was clear that the two parties should sit down and discuss but they only did last week after I caused them to meet at the ministry.
“That attitude is contemptuous to court ruling and does not speak to the urgency of the matter
I as minister and also a lawyer cannot countenance and say court judgements are irrelevant,” said Chasi.
He said when he came into office he wanted to see progress in the project and his stance remains unwavering.
“When I came into office, I spoke about the project and money being returned.
“Remember Zesa lost twice to Intratrek and have a pending appeal whose date of hearing we do not know, even if we knew we don’t know the outcome but people need power.
“I have been in touch with Councillor Ncube whose ward the project lyes in and he spoke of how the hospitals have no power and people suffering,” he added.
Chasi said he respects people’s interest in the project but he had made a ‘pragmatic as opposed to a pedantic knit picking solution’ to the matter.
He reasoned that cancellation of the project will see the country facing another 18 months of power crisis as there will be need foe perapratory works at the Gwanda site couple with sticking legal issues.
“If project is cancelled we are looking at 18 months and legal issues still to be settled, a party which has lost twice is in a weak position,” he explained.
He noted that significant change of circumstances had prevailed on the deal and has seen the asking price of the contractor being reduced to US$ 139 million.
“Intratrek also appointed a new transaction advisor in the person of reputable lawyer Edwin Manikai and Wilson Manase as chairperson.
“They promised that 10 MW will be produced in six months,” he said.
This week, Supreme Court ruling on an appeal by the Prosecutor General, Kumbirai Hodzi, ordered that Chivayo must answer to fraud charges emanating from an alleged embezzlement of a US$5.6 million advance payment for a feasibility study at the construction site five years ago.
The court quashed the High Court ruling which acquitted Chivayo in inexplicable circumstances that saw an accessory to the alleged crime Stanley Chizhanje being convicted.
The whole ‘factual matrix’ of the matter is littered with massive inconsistencies giving rise to possibility of money (inducements) exchanging hands as Chivayo fights for freedom and to retain the lucrative contract.