Supreme Court Deals Wicknell Chivayo A Huge Blow, ZESA Now Free To Cancel Gwanda Project

Controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo has been dealt a huge blow by the Supreme Court which overturned a High court ruling which compelled the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to work with his company Intratek on the multimillion Gwanda solar project.

This means that ZPC, the holding company for ZESA, is now free to cancel the tender awarded to Chivayo and Intratek for the construction of the Gwanda solar project.

Chivayo’s company, Intratek Zimbabwe was awarded the US$200 million tender by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) for the construction of the Gwanda Solar Power Project in 2015. But meaningful progress was yet to be made on the project almost three years later even though Chivayo had received an advance of US$5 million from Zesa in irregular circumstances.

This prompted the ZPC in 2018, to give Chivayo an ultimatum. The power utility gave Intratek two weeks to complete pre-commencement works at the site in Gwanda, as well as provide a bank guarantee. If Chivayo and Intratek failed to do so, ZPC said it would cancel the tender and sue to recover over US$5 million it had already paid to the company.

After getting the ultimatum, Chivayo rushed to the High Court arguing that the contract was still valid and that he had not been responsible for the lack of progress in building the solar project.

High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled in Chivayo’s favour and declared that the contract was valid and binding.  He ruled that the party which failed to work with the other  “shall be deemed to have repudiated the contract and liable to damages at the instance of the innocent party.”

However, ZPC was not happy with the decision and filed an appeal at the High Court. ZPC argued that Chivayo had used the wrong procedure in approaching the High Court.

The appeal was heard by Supreme Court judges Francis Bere, Elizabeth Gwaunza and Chinembiri Bhunu who overturned Justice Chitapi’s ruling. The Supreme Court ruled that Justice Chitapi should have thrown out Wicknell’s case because his lawyers had used the wrong procedure.

“This is a proper case where the High Court should have expressed its displeasure by dismissing the application with costs” as per Zimlive.

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