Oliver Kazunga in Victoria Falls
LEGISLATORS recently took Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge to task over the $5 million his ministry paid to a local contractor for the Gwanda Solar Power project.
Intratek Zimbabwe, which is owned by flamboyant Harare businessman Mr Wicknell Chivayo was awarded the tender for the $202 million 100MW Gwanda solar project in October 2015. The project remains in limbo to date.
Parliamentarians attending the parliamentary 2018 pre-budget conference grilled Dr Undenge during a question and answer session to explain how the $5 million was paid to Intratek.
Dr Undenge admitted that the project had stalled and had been taken over by the Zimbabwe Power Company.
“The tender for the Gwanda solar power project was awarded to a company owned by Wicknell Chivayo (Intratek) and in the contract there was a provision for the payment of pre-commencement works, which was supposed to be paid to the company for topographical studies and feasibility studies,” said the minister in response.
“I don’t know how much was paid for the pre-commencement services such as topographical and feasibility studies. The Zimbabwe Power Company has taken over management of the project.”
The Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, then directed the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy to investigate the matter.
“In terms of Standing Orders, the committee is allowed to ask for documentation in order for the matter to be fully distilled. The Committee on Mines and Energy has men and women of integrity; they will have to carry with them the Auditor-General’s report as a point of departure and the Minister (Dr Undenge) has to answer,” he said.
Dr Undenge was bombarded with questions by legislators who sought an explanation over progress in the implementation of the project.
“We need to know how the $5 million is going to be recovered from Intratek as there was no service done and the contract has been given to another company. Part of the $5 million was also paid to his (Dr Undenge’s) personal account, let him account for the money,” Norton MP Mr Temba Mliswa (independent), said.
Mabvuku-Tafara legislator Mr James Maridadi (MDC-T) said the pre-Budget gathering had given them an opportunity to ask Dr Undenge to account for the money his ministry paid to Intratek for a project that has not been done.
The Environmental Management Agency has since approved the Environmental Impact Assessment report for the development of the 100-megawatt solar plant in Gwanda.