Chivayo braces for bruising wrangle

16 Feb, 2018 - 07:02 0 Views
Chivayo braces for bruising wrangle Wicknell Chivayo

eBusiness Weekly

Business Writer
A potentiallY bruising legal wrangle is brewing between Intratrek Zimbabwe managing director Wicknell Chivayo and fellow shareholder, Yusuf Ahmed, over ownership of the company, with the latter claiming Chivayo ceded his shares to him in 2014.

Chivayo told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Mines this week he was still a 50 percent shareholder in the firm he founded and one which went on to win two multi-million dollar tenders to build power plants for the Zimbabwe Power Company.

Following revelations he ceded his stake in the firm, and asked if the there was a dispute over ownership of Intratrek, Chivayo admitted, saying there was fallout, which potentially “could go to court”.

Yusuf’s lawyer Bruce Tokwe had lifted the lid on the boardroom wrangle in Intratrek, which won tenders for the $174 million Gwanda solar project and $128 million Gairezi hydro power scheme, when he appeared before the same committee on Monday.

This comes as Tokwe also revealed Yusuf, whom he claimed was now the sole shareholder of Intratrek and Chivayo being a mere MD, was planning major board and management changes at the firm.

The lawyer indicated efforts had been made previously to ring changes at Intratrek, but it was always difficult back then; an insinuation the Harare businessman enjoyed protection from powers above.

On why they now wanted to act on the mess at Intratrek Zimbabwe, Tokwe said that “It is because the dynamics have changed. Like anywhere else, the new dispensation has given everyone hope.”

Tokwe claimed Chivayo signed off his 50 percent interest in the company to Yusuf in 2014, as settlement for a loan he received from his business partner.

But when asked to respond, the Harare businessman refuted the claim saying he remained a 50 percent shareholder in the company.

Ostensibly, it does make sense Chivayo will not agree or consent to having lost his stake in Intratrek. For a man known for his abrasive arrogance, lavish lifestyle, projecting the image of a millionaire and regards the multi-million tenders his treasure trove, the snobbish ‘tender-prenuer’ will not throw in the towel just like that.

This is despite the fact that Tokwe claimed to have proof of the true ownership of Intratrek Zimbabwe on his person at Parliament. Verification was, however, not done in full view of the public.

Chivayo, while agreeing that he signed off his stake in the company, claimed he eventually regained full ownership of his 50 percent shareholding in the company when he repaid the loan in question.

Well-placed sources said, after the events at Parliament, that Chivayo even boasted that the company remained registered in his name.

But Tokwe told the parliamentary committee that if the ownership of Intratrek did not reflect Yusuf as 100 percent shareholder, changes thereof must have been done ‘clandestinely’.

Tokwe started firing from the hip the moment committee chairperson and Norton legislator Temba Mliswa gave him the floor to recount the goings on at Intratrek and explain to what extent Yusuf was aware of the controversy over the Gwanda solar project.

He was speaking at the same session where Chivayo was being grilled over the manner Intratrek won the Gwanda solar farm tender, issues to do with how he was paid and slow progress on the project.

This, as Chivayo admitted he initially lost out the first time the tender was floated, but appealed to higher offices to have three compliant companies, out of a total of six, awarded tenders.

The tenders related to three solar farm projects, Gwanda, Insukamini (Bulawayo) and Munyati. Parliament was livid Chivayo used political influence to get his way instead of courts, as legally provided, to register his misgivings on the tender bids outcome.

Chivayo’s fellow founding shareholder Yusuf, through his lawyers, said even him as Intratrek shareholder was ‘none the wiser’ with regard to how things were handled at the firm and tender bungling.

He said that “the same questions Parliament was asking (about the Gwanda solar farm project and how funds from ZPC were used) were the same questions the shareholders have been asking.”

“As we indicated earlier, we act as proxies of shareholders of Intratrek Zimbabwe Private Limited. I will start by giving a brief background of Intratrek.

“It was indeed started by Chivayo in and Yusuf Ahmed at 50 percent (shareholding) each in terms of the shareholding of this particular company,” he said.

“In 2014 Chivayo borrowed some money on the understanding that he would cede the rest of his shareholding in Intratrek Zimbabwe, which he did from a company called Intermillion Investments,” he said.

“For all intents and purposes, and as things stand, Chivayo is not really a shareholder in Intratrek Zimbabwe Limited. Now, the biggest challenge that has been there, I think everybody has seen it, is that:

“Even in communicating with members of this August House, Chivayo was saying ‘I did this, I did that’, ‘my this, my that’. He has never respected corporate governance issues that relate to management of companies.

“That is precisely why we are here today, because the shareholders have said ‘this project is not moving, we are concerned and we risk our name being tainted because of what is going on.

“That it was high time we take some action and make sure things happen on the ground. As such, there is need to restructure the board and management of Intratrek Zimbabwe Private Limited.”

Tokwe said the ‘real’ shareholders were worried about what transpired around the Gwanda project amid suspicion funds paid by ZPC, as advance payment for Gwanda, which Yusuf did not see, were abused.

The lawyer said Yusuf had thus far invested between $2 million and $3 million to get Intratrek started and set up meetings with partners, CHiNT Electric Co, which enabled Intratrek to win the tenders for Gwanda and Gairezi.

Asked by Members of Parliament, who constantly accused him of being a briefcase businessman and forming the company specifically for the tenders, how much he had personally invested in Intratrek, Chivayo curtly replied, that he had invested “about $2 million”.

Tokwe said given the fact that Yusuf had invested significantly in Intratrek and specifically towards the Gwanda solar project, he was willing to provide resources needed to get the project off the ground.

The resources said, could be mobilized within a week, including equipment.

He said efforts to get the necessary documentation to get actively involved in the project, which appeared to have gone off rail, had failed.

Chivayo has often been seen on social media posting pictures of himself spending extravagantly funds suspected to be proceeds of the millions of dollars he supposedly received from ZPC.

This includes an occasion when he posted photos of himself taken with the former First Lady Grace Mugabe in Dubai, blowing the dollars while a strategic national project, owned by Government and for which public resources were used, remained in the rut.

The Intratrek MD however vehemently denied that he used his connections to the former First Lady or any other high political power to unduly benefit. He said only approached people he believed could help.

But he was at pains to explain why the progress not progressed according to plan and why he had been paid without an advance payment bank guarantee.

Chivayo also often flaunted his questionable wealth through curious donations and sponsorship to the Zimbabwe’s national men’s football team.

In most instances, the source of his wealth remained an issue of conjecture.

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