Saturday, July 21Always On-point

‘Parly has no power to cancel solar project’

Parliament will not jump into a decision to move a motion seeking to cancel the $202 million Gwanda solar tender awarded to Intratrek Zimbabwe and its partner, CHiNT Electric, but will gather evidence and make recommendations to the minister responsible.

Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda said in an interview yesterday that it was not the procedure of Parliament to make abrupt decisions to cancel public tenders over suspected irregularities without empirical evidence, which informs the recommendation it makes to the responsible minister.

Advocate Mudenda’s comments come following alleged reports made by Norton legislator Temba Mliswa who reportedly suggested on social media for Parliament to move a motion to cancel the Gwanda solar tender won by the local company and its Chinese partner through a competitive bid process overseen by the State Procurement Board, which supervises all State procurement, over allegations of procedural flaws. The tender was awarded to the lowest bidder to specification, Intratrek and CHiNT.

“That is not the procedure (moving a motion in Parliament to cancel State Government tenders). Normally, Parliament conducts oral evidence and tables the report for debate in Parliament. Depending on the nature of the report from the energy committee of Parliament, it makes recommendations to the minister responsible,” he said.

Advocate Mudenda’s comments also come after former Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy chair Daniel Shumba said proper investigations would be conducted before a decision is taken by the parliamentary energy committee on the project.

“We would want to investigate if proper procedure was followed. So, we will not rush to allege. If any procedure, standards and corporate governance issues were violated, then we will take it from there,” the chairperson of the Energy Portfolio Committee, Dr Shumba was quoted in the media recently.

The remarks, which seemingly indicate that legislature was incapacitated to simply reverse State project tenders awarded by a statutory board after a due process, come as it emerged that the Zimbabwe Power Company had extended the contract for completion of pre-commencement works by six months until early next year.

“Clause 5 of the contract ZPC 304/2015 between Intratrek Zimbabwe Private Limited (with its partner CHiNT Electric Co.) as contractor provided for the employer to extend the condition precedent (CP) satisfaction period by a further six (6) months in the event that the CP satisfaction period has expired 24 months after the date of signature of the contract. We therefore notify you of the extension of the CP satisfaction period to April 23, 2018, as per the contract agreement,” ZPC said.

Contacted for comment Intratrek Zimbabwe managing director Wicknell Chivayo said only $1,3 million was outstanding, from the $5,8 million released by ZPC for the pre-commencement works, after the company spent $2,1 million on a feasibility study, already delivered, for the 100MW project while part of the funds on access roads and the site way-leave.

The remaining $1,3 million will be used to cover geo-technical survey and site clearance for the 225 hectare site, which are currently being conducted by Taijet and fencing giant Salwire, respectively. Chivayo said completion of these works in the next 20 days will pave way for the start of civil works for the installation of the first 25MW and also extinguish ZPC’s outstanding exposure. The geo-technical survey and fencing of the project site are currently ongoing.

Intratrek chairman Wilson Manase said they were bound by contractual terms of the project and were committed to its successful completion as agreed. The 100MW will be installed in phases of 25MW until the full lot is exhausted over a period spanning about 9 months from when the initial phase begins.

Mr Chivayo has recently come under the spotlight for the power deals amid unrelenting demands on authorities to investigate his company and establish how he won all the lucrative power tenders running into hundreds of millions of dollars.

Part of the demands centred on allegations that he had received $5,8 million from ZPC without a bank guarantee as a precondition and that he had not been able to meet performance target as had been agreed. However, he argues that delays to the project were also partly due to ZPC’s failure to meet its end of the bargain, which required them to provide a portion of the project cost (equity portion).

Contacted for comment ZPC Acting managing director Joshua Chirikutsi referred all questions to ZPC chair Stan Kazhanje who in turn requested questions in writing.–herald

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