WICKNELL CHIVAYO left school at 15

WICKNELL CHIVAYO dropped out of school just before he turned 15.

He went straight into employment as a wages clerk for a bus company, when, around 1997, he could barely read or write— let alone manage company records.

That’s Wicknell Chivayo for you. Some years later, he emerged on Harare’s crazy streets as an illegal forex dealer, hanging around the then Union Avenue Flea Market (now Kwame Nkrumah) It’s not clear how he really did his stuff during that time but, around 2006, he had become the owner of a pretty briefcase company he named Intratek Zimbabwe.

His days in the streets must have been helpful though. That was the time when the RBZ was using street forex dealers to scoop up the good money using the worthless local notes.

You don’t get to hear much about Intratek until 2016 when it emerges that the mysterious company received US$4.8 million dollars from the Zimbabwe Power Company for a job that it hadn’t done and would never do, worse still without providing financial security needed just in case the contractor failed to deliver.

In fact, as it emerged in 2017, ZPC had paid him US$7 million — not US$4.8 million — when Samuel Undenge was the Energy minister. It’s not clear what business Undenge was pursuing getting involved in the Intratek deal, but you know Africa now. You do for me, I do for you.

There were bits on Chivayo, though, in 2004, when he was virtually unknown. They threw him into the cooler after convicting him of fraud worth US$200,000.

The rest is history. He came out of jail as a “bandit”, local street lingo for a convict, and went straight to winning mega-million tenders doing briefcase business.

After the 2016 ZPC deal, Chivayo upgrade, winning power tenders and possibly getting paid close to US$700 million. You heard it right! Just under a billion worth of tenders for which he hardly did anything.

At that time, Chivayo was particularly close to his home-girl and “mother”, Grace Mugabe, the first lady at the time. But Chivayo was also close to other G40 hangers-on whose Zanu-PF camp was gunning to take over from the aged Robert Mugabe.

By the time of the coup, it seemed like Chivayo was on the slip. His ties to G40 were well-known and the coup mongers didn’t like him a bit for that. They banned him from using one of their gyms in Cranborne, Harare. And, when Emmerson Mnangagwa became president, they revived a criminal search around him and we thought he was finished.

That was wrong, of course, because Wicknell, somehow, became close to the president, doing photo shoots with him at every drop of the hat. You must remember this as we
talk, because it tells you something. Chivayo, as you all know, is trending. Of late, he has been buying cars for, and making huge cash donations to socialites, musicians, clowns, churches, etcetera. Here, we are talking big money, comrades. Millions and millions of dollars in “simulated philanthropy”.

There are certain revealing things that you will easily note about these so-called donations.

Number one, the claim by Wicknell that the money he is using is coming from his commercial ventures. He has said that he is now into gas, a business that he claims spans Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania and elsewhere.

It’s not clear if he means that he is still trading as Intratek, a company that he disowned at one time when the shady ZPC payment became such a hot potato. But Intratek or Intertek, it won’t matter. It’s super curious that when Chivayo makes the donations, there is no link at all to this or any other briefcase company that Wicknell may be said to run. You expect, under normal circumstances, that when a company generates profits and decides to go into charity, the company takes the lead and is present in all schemes of things. Some people call this corporate PR.

But where these donations are concerned, zilch. Zero. It’s just Wicknell and his broken English on X, formerly Twitter. Only the now bulky him at some of the donations, huffing and puffing about this or another thing.

So, one then tends to wonder if Wicknell knows a single thing about corporate governance. We don’t know a mite about his staff, let alone board. Because they don’t appear anywhere when Chivayo is making the donations. We also don’t know anything about his business partners.

It then appears like this is a one-man band. If it’s a one-man band, what’s happening with issues to do with transparency and accountability? Does the purported gas company that is generating the millions keep books of accounts? Who are the signatories to the bank accounts? Does the company ever hold meetings? Is there any other director or board member who approves the donations being made by Wicknell?

These are very important questions. Such hazy outfits — if at all there is any outfit to talk about — create fertile opportunities for corruption and malfeasance.

Number two, links to Zanu-PF. Yesterday, it was the Zanu-PF G40 faction that Wicknell was hobnobbing with. Now it’s the Lacoste faction or something close to it that grabbed the food from the G40 mouths that is doing some hanky-panky with him. But what does it matter? Zanu-PF is Zanu-PF.

You notice, of course, that all the donations go to benefit people and institutions that are actually or seemingly linked to Zanu-PF, and Wicknell, an opportunistic supporter of the ruling party, makes no effort to hide that. Usefully too, you also notice that there is a common denominator in Chivayo’s messaging. President Emmerson Mnangagwa. You show loyalty to the president, you are likely to get an Aqua or a Benz.

Number three, this deafening silence on Wicknell’s ominously mysterious charity. You would have expected the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to stretch a snort onto this and probe Wicknell’s real source of the wealth he is flaunting. It’s not doing that. That means Chivayo is a hot coal. That means, in turn, that Chivayo is bumping with the big boys. If you bump with the big boys, you are untouchable, for as long as the big buys are still bumping and you are doing what you ought to do.

Here is the thing. There has been so much noise around Chivayo and his most probably dirty wealth. Mnangagwa’s name has been dropped in almost all the cases. But Mnangagwa won’t say a thing about the Chivayo “charity”. Question is: Does his silence then not make him the biggest boy in the bumping club?

Further question: How come, after showing interest to get the law working on Chivayo in the early days after the coup, Mnangagwa and Wicknell became bossom buddies? How did the Saul moment come? Frankly speaking, no serious president of a country would ever want to be seen with a convicted prisoner, let alone smile along when the “bandit” is making donations using money that could easily be proceeds of fraud and corruption.

That Wicknell was bumping with Grace Mugabe and Undenge, the former Energy minister, back then, is a good message on what could be happening this time around. There is a very big likelihood that Chivayo is being used by the big boys to spin and chow big money as a “runner”.

They use him as a front to land fat tenders. He lands the tenders and gets the money for the big boys. And he then gets his cut from the tenders. Chivayo remembers where he is getting the easy money from; the big boys from Zanu-PF that he is bumping with. No wonder, therefore, that Zanu-PF becomes the anchor on which the donations are made.

He is not the only small boy bumping with the big dudes, by the way.Thebigguysusethesmallrunners to make the money. But one day is one day. Tawanda Majoni
Source – the standard

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