In a new turn of events, Harare regional magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube has cleared businessman Wicknell Chivayo and his company, Intratrek Zimbabwe, of the fraud charges involving the Gwanda Solar project.
The magistrate upheld Chivayo and Intratrek’s application for refusal of further remand of the matter and requested for a not guilty verdict.
He noted that the State had failed to prosecute them within a reasonable time since they were summoned back to court.
Chivayo and his company were accused of defrauding the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) of $5.6 million in a deal to construct a 100-megawatt solar power plant in Gwanda.
The State alleged that they misrepresented that they had the capacity and funds to execute the project, but failed to do so after receiving the money.
However, Chivayo and Intratrek denied the allegations and challenged the State’s case at various levels of the court system.
They argued that they had performed their obligations under the contract and that the delays were caused by ZPC’s failure to provide land, water, and environmental impact assessment reports.
The magistrate agreed with Chivayo and Intratrek’s submissions and ruled that there was no evidence of fraud or misrepresentation on their part.
He also said that the State had violated their constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial by dragging the case for too long.
Chivhayo and his company have been in and out of the courts over the ZPC deal since 2015.
The acquittal of Chivayo and Intratrek is a major blow to the anti-corruption crusade in Zimbabwe, which has been marred by allegations of selective prosecution and political interference.