Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) yesterday threw businessman and Intratrek managing director Mr Wicknel Chivayo under the bus after they denied playing a role in the controversial award of the 100 megawatt(MW) solar project tender to the firm in 2015.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, chaired by Norton Member of Parliament Mr Temba Mliswa (Independent), has since resolved to invite three cabinet ministers, a deputy minister and permanent secretary who were involved in the award of the controversial tender.
In a letter yesterday, deputy chief secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndhlukula said OPC did not play any role in the tendering process.
Parliament invited the OPC after Mr Chivayo told legislators last month that he had written to Dr Misheck Sibanda – chief secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet – for intervention after he failed to land the tender in 2015.
“The OPC plays an oversight role in the implementation of Government projects, be it in ministries and State-owned enterprises. The Office liaises with the relevant ministries to carry out this mandate. The alleged involvement of the Office in the national solar project in Gwanda would therefore be at the level of the Office, engaging the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development and not beyond,” wrote Dr Ndhukula in a letter addressed to acting Clerk of Parliament, Ms Helen Dingane.
“The onus is on the Intratrek management to prove that indeed they met with Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet or myself, or both, where this project was discussed. As far as we know, we have never engaged directly any person from Intratrek. The person alleging this meeting must confirm to the Portfolio Committee where and when he did meet OPC officials. There is therefore no basis for this Office to appear before the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy.”
In his evidence, Mr Chivayo said upon losing the tender, he wrote a letter to Dr Sibanda, who, in turn, referred the case to Dr Ndhukula.
Addressing journalists yesterday, Mr Mliswa said the committee has resolved to invite the OPC to come and make their representations before Parliament under oath.
“As a result, the committee had resolved to write back to them so they come and answer these issues under oath,” said Mr Mliswa.
Further, the committee has also resolved to invite all former ministers who were responsible for the solar project.
The ministers include Mr Elton Mangoma, who was in charge of the portfolio during the inclusive Government, and his successor Mr Dzikamai Mavhaire.
Dr Samuel Udenge, the immediate past minister, will also be hauled before the committee, together with Engineer Munacho Mutezo and former permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr Partson Mbiriri.
Mr Mangoma has since written to Parliament indicating his willingness to clear his name.