19 March 2018

Zimbabwe: Chivayo - President's Office Refuses to Appear Before Parliament

THE deputy secretary to the president and cabinet Ray Ndhlukula has refused to appear before parliament to explain his office's alleged involvement in the contentious Gwanda solar power plant.

Parliament's mines and energy portfolio committee is investigating the "unprocedural" awarding of the project to controversial tenderprenuer Wicknell Chivayo.

Appearing before the committee recently, Chivayo claimed that he wrote to chief secretary of OPC Misheck Sibanda who assigned the issue to Ray Ndhlukula.

However, in a letter dated March 13, Ndhlukula said he had no business appearing before the Temba Mliswa chaired committee last Friday, arguing the duty to prove the allegations lies with Chivayo.

"The office of the president plays an oversight role in the implementation of government projects be it in ministries or state-owned enterprises. The office liaises with relevant ministries to carry out this mandate," he said.

"The alleged involvement of (OPC) 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.

"The onus is on the Intratrek management to prove they met with the chief secretary to the president and cabinet or myself or both where this project was discussed."

Ndhlukula added; "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 the OPC officials.

"Therefore, there is no basis for this office to appear before the portfolio committee on Mines and Energy."

Committee chair Mliswa however, insisted parliament has the mandate to interrogate everyone, including the executive.

"The committee resolved that is precisely the reason we want him (Ndhlukula) here. We want to know what they have to say about it (Gwanda project)," said Mliswa.

"It's a national project which the office of the president and cabinet must answer to it. Also, parliament can call anyone to appear before us, and they (OPC) were mentioned so it's only right that they come and appear before this committee.

"So, we will be writing to them to say that we need them to come and y update us on some of these issues. We have oversight over every level of government."

Chivayo was advanced $7 million for the project by Zesa but he did not do any work at the site except to install two small cabins.

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