Undenge trial kick-starts

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Margaret Matibiri

The trial of the jailed former Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge in connection with a case in which Intratrek Zimbabwe was corruptly awarded the Gwanda solar power plant tender by Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) has begun.

Through his lawyer Alec Muchadehama, Undenge denied the charges indicating that he did not direct the former ZPC  Managing Director Noah Gwariro to pay Intratek.

Gwariro told the court that he was directed by Undenge to make a prepayment of over $5 million to Intratek even after they had failed to produce bank guarantees as per their agreement.

Gwariro said “Our contract with Intratrek required them to produce bank guarantees before any payments were to be made to them. These bank guarantees were a form of assurance for ZPC that in the event that they failed to deliver the promised services, the company would not encounter losses.

“After Intratrek failed to produce this bank guarantee, I personally notified the minister at that time, Undenge, of the developments and he said he was going to take the matter up with his principals in cabinet.

“Days later I was directed to make the payment to Intratrek by Undenge as he indicated that it was necessary for the project to kickstart.”

Gwariro also told the court that Intratrek had an unusual way of pursuing their case as they would frequent high offices in government in the event that they failed to get what they wanted.

During cross examination, Muchadehama alleged that Gwariro was initially an accused person in the matter as the police had made it clear in their ‘warned and cautioned statement’ to Undenge that he had connived with Gwariro in the matter.

“You are corruptly roaming free when in actuality are supposed to be an accused person in the matter being jointly charged with the accused.

“The police together with the ZPC board believe that you are guilty of this offence and you are testifying against the accused as a way of clearing your own name and it is only the State that does not view you as an accused.

“You are pursuing your personal vendettas with the accused person as this is not your first time appearing before the court testifying against him so you can settle scores with him.”

Gwariro was suspended from his position because the board was investigating the Intratrek case and the board alleged that he had made payments to Intratrek without consulting board members.

Gwariro later resigned on medical grounds.

Undenge was released on $1 000 bail with instructions to continue residing at his given address until finalisation of the matter.

Allegations are that Undenge directed ZPC to grant controversial businessman Wicknel Chivayo’s company, Intratrek Zimbabwe, a tender for the Gwanda solar power plant project.

It is alleged the company failed to execute the project despite getting $5 607 814,24 from Government.
Magistrate Barbara Chimboza is presiding over the matter.