By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) board chair Stanley Kazhanje has been slapped with a three-year jail term following his conviction for concealing a US$10 000 transaction with controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo’s Intratrek Zimbabwe.
During trial, the State proved he received the money in order to cancel the controversial 100-megawatt Gwanda solar project which had been awarded to Chivayo’s company.
Chivayo is still on trial over the same matter.
Prosecutors also proved that the former chairman also failed to disclose that his company Terminal Engineers, once did consultancy work for Chivayo.
Kazhanje was convicted by Harare magistrate, Hosea Mujaya after a full trial.
He will however serve an effective 12-month jail term after the magistrate scrapped two years of his sentence conditionally.
“The accused had received training through orientation and knew what was expected of him,” said Mujaya in convicting Kazhanje.
He added, “The defence team, led by Sylvester Hashiti, had not led any evidence to prove that Kazhanje had taken steps to inform the board of a potential conflict of interest.
“I equally wonder if the accused person forgot to tell this court if he directed the former minister to relay his message to the board,” Mujaya said.
Prosecutor Brian Vito of the President’s Special anti-Corruption Unit urged Mujaya to give Kazhanje a lengthy custodial sentence.
To justify his claim, the prosecutor called former ZPC board member and now Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption (Zacc) commissioner Thandiwe Mlobane who further nailed the convict.
However, the witness left Vito with egg on his face saying Kazhanje never signed any documents relating to Gwanda Solar Project.
“The accused was a very good chairperson. He was not biased in the meeting…Former managing director Noah Gwariro said he was pressured to release the contract by then Energy minister Samuel Undenge,” she said.
Vito however proved that ZPC paid Intratrek advanced payments of $1 236 154 for implementation of the controversial project.
But Chivayo’s company did not carry out any meaningful project resulting in ZPC suggesting termination of the contract.
The court heard that on January 21, 2016, and under unclear circumstances, Kazhanje received US$10 000 into his First Capital Bank personal account from Intratrek’s CBZ Bank account.
Kazhanje failed to declare his interests and presided over a meeting where the power utility resolved to directly pay Intratrek subcontractors instead of terminating the contract.
ZPC went on to pay $4 387 849 as advance payment despite Intratrek’s failure to fulfil its obligation.
The court heard that Kazhanje was influenced by this payment to decide in favour of Intratrek.