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Chigumba partook in Chivayo’s multi-million dodgy Zec deals



ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba participated in a meeting between businessman Wicknell Chivayo and officials from Better Brands Security and South African company REN-Form ahead of the parties formally agreeing to partner in supplying the commission with electoral material at grossly inflated prices of up to 235%, The NewsHawks has learnt.

This includes a US$40 million tender for the provision of a new voter management solution for the electoral body, with the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) playing a crucial role.

Invoices indicate that REN-Form also invoiced Zec separately for providing biometric voter registration (BVR) kits and software (US$8 964 603.80) on 3 March 2023 (invoice number 1365).

Another invoice valued at US$5 992 334 was dispatched to Zec on 28 March 2023, for the supply of security paper and indelible ink. 

An invoice for US$7 786 800 was also sent to the OPC for Voter Results Transmission (invoice number 1444) on 8 May 2023 while another invoice for US$9 955 011.79 for items such as reflective official vests and mobile toilets was lodged on 11 August 2023 (invoice number 1557-2).

A memorandum of agreement (MoA) signed by the parties on 13 February 2023 indicates the parties agreed to work together “for the purpose of preparing and submitting one or more bids (proposals) to ZEC for the supply of Biometric Voter Registration Kits and any other election material ‘of ZEC’ for the forthcoming 2023 elections”.

Chigumba’s role was revealed in a letter of complaint dated 24 April 2024 to Ren-Form official Angus Carlaw, which was co-signed by Chivayo’s partners Mike Chimombe and Moses Mpofu. Chimombe and Mpofu complained bitterly that REN-Form officials connived with Chivayo to disregard a contract between the two parties by entering into an unlawful deal with the controversial businessman and convicted criminal, whom they paid inflated fees.

The parties entered into an agreement after a meeting at REN-Form’s Johannesburg premises on 2 February 2023. Chigumba was part of the meeting, according to Chimombe and Mpofu.

“We are writing in regard to an agreement entered into between better Brands Security (Pvt) Ltd and yourselves on the 13th of February 2023. Or agreement was to partner with you to participate in tenders in Zimbabwe for election materials. We have attached the contract for your reference,” they wrote.

“This was done after a meeting between Moses Mpofu, Wicknell Chivhayo and the ZEC chairperson, Honourable Chigumba held at your premises in Johannesburg on the 2nd of February2023; we will attach the photos taken on the particular meeting day.”

Chigumba’s role is suspicious, given that the meeting took place before the bid was made.

The Zec chairperson however dismissed the allegations as fiction when The NewsHawks asked her what her role in the deal was.

ZEC Chairperson Priscilla Chigumba

She responded through Zec deputy chairperson Rodney Kiwa, who doubles as the commission’s spokesperson.

ZEC Deputy Chair Robert Simukai Kiwa

“Your questions were forwarded to the Hon ZEC Chairperson who in turn requested me, as ZEC spokesperson apprise you with the Commission’s position: ‘The Commission does not breathe life to fiction’,” Kiwa said.

As a result of the murky tender, Chivayo, who is very close to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other high-profile government officials, made rich pickings after inflating charges by up to 235% on some invoices.

After receiving payment from Zec, REN-Form would, in turn, deposit up to 66% of the invoice fee into Chivayo’s account, the letter shows.

The deal had the blessing of the Office of the President and Cabinet. In some cases, invoices from RENForm were sent directly to the OPC instead of Zec.

For example, an invoice for US$19 957 301 (invoice number 101.1) was sent to Cabinet Secretary Martin Rushwaya on 28 October 2023, representing 50% of the contract value for a new voter management solution for Zec.

This was an advance payment ahead of any supplies as per the agreement. This was followed by invoice number 101.2 on 28 November 2023 for US$4 989 325.50, representing 12.5% of the invoice value for the voter management system.

Another invoice dated 4 March 2024 (invoice number 101.4) for the amount of US$4 989 325.50 (25% of the contract value) was also sent to Rushwaya, Priscilla Chigumba indicating that the OPC played a pivotal role in the US$40 million contract “new voter management solution for ZEC” contract.

Chivayo,  Chimombe and Mpofu, through Better Brands Security (Pvt) Ltd owned by Zanu PF gold dealer Pedzai “Scott” Sakupwanya entered an agreement with REN-Form where the South African company would supply, instal, train and support a suitable solution that will meet the needs of Zec.

They proposed to provide new world-class BVR kits as well as the required software to ensure that the commission could register and update the voter management system ahead of the elections.

The memorandum of agreement signed by the parties shows that REN-Form was meant to charge market fees, with Better Brands Security then inflating the prices through charging extra fees and commissions.

The final invoice presented to Zec contained the market price and the extra fees, to cater for the share of the Zimbabwean businessmen, the MOA showed. REN-Form chief executive officer Thomas Michael Du Sart signed on behalf of his company, which was listed as the contractor, while Everson Chatambudza signed on behalf of Better Brands, referred to as the partner in the MoA.

They agreed that Better Brands would remain in the shadows as it would engage the electoral body behind-the-scenes, with REN-Form formally engaging Zec and factoring in inflated prices.

“The Contractor will act as the prime contractor and will prepare and submit the Proposal. The contractor will be the point of the contact to the Customer and will own the overall customer relationship and satisfaction,” reads the MOA.

“The Contractor shall offer the best available pricing to the Partner, which is market related, and the Partner shall be entitled to add a mark-up and/or service fees and or commission as applicable to the pricing provided and which the Contractor shall present to Zec. An Addendum to this Agreement shall be created by the Contractor for each bid to Zec, detailing the pricing and all commissions, fees and mark-ups payable by the contractor to the Partner and shall be signed by the parties.

“The proposal will be prepared by the Contractor who will designate a representative and will act as the leader for the Proposal.

“The Partner agrees to provide the necessary liaison effort with the Zec to allow the Contractor to draft and write the Proposal that describes the requirements and provides the necessary solution for Zec and thus to submit the most responsible Proposal practicable.”

The parties agreed that REN-Form would receive payment from Zec, before depositing Better Brands’ portion into a South African account.

A proposal for the supply of biometric kits from REN-Form to Zec addressed to Chigumba proposed the following payment terms: 50% with order, 35% on delivery of kits to Harare and 15% on project approval and sign-off.

REN-Form subsequently sent an invoice dated 28 October 2023 for 50% of the contract value to the OPC for US$19 957 301 for new voter management solutions for Zec, meaning the full contract was worth US$39 914 602.

Documents also show that the ministry of Finance directed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and CBZ Bank to make several payments to REN-Form as payment for its services.

The NewsHawks also saw several invoices sent to Zec and the OPC between March 2023 and March this year.

The government has also made several payments to REN-Form which have spilled to this year. The payments were made after requests from the ministry of Finance either to the Reserve Bank or to CBZ.

This includes a payment of US$8 964 603 after a directive from the ministry on 4 April 2023, after an invoice issued on 3 March.

The ministry also issued directives for the payment of US$2 145 000 on 5 May 2023, US$3 544 526 on 5 June 2023, US$4 128 500 on 27 July 2003, US$5 million on 1 February 2024, US$3 946 626.50 on 9 February, US$5 731 979 on 27 February US$4 989 325 on 8 March.

Documents however show that Chivayo sidestepped his partners by allegedly convincing RENForm to pay the money into a separate account, leaving Chimombe and Mpofu livid.

They also revealed that the amounts being paid to the South African company were inflated by up to 235%, with the South African company paying Chivayo 66% of the invoice fees on some transactions.

Chimombe and Mpofu complained bitterly that the South African company had violated the agreement.

“After we signed the contract under Better Brands, you conspired with one of our partners in the project, Mr Wicknell Chivayo, and unilaterally changed the contract to his company, Intratrek. Our agreement stated that you would pay our agreed commission into the FNB account for Better Brands. However, for reasons known to you, you decided to cancel our agreement without the consent of both parties. The cancellation of that agreement was fraudulently done. We have attempted to engage with you on several times, but you have chosen to continue making payments to Mr. Wicknell Chivayo,” Chimombe and Mpofu wrote.

“In this letter, we are writing to you in confidence to find a settlement. We will attach some of the proof of payments from the Zimbabwe Government Treasury department. We have the invoice you have charged ZEC and are aware of the profits being made. For example, we are in possession of the initial quotation dated the 20th of February 2023, valued at US$2,673,360.00 with quotation no. Q20022023_211. Additionally, we have the subsequent quotation that you sent to ZEC, with the value inflated to US$8,964,603.80, which is approximately a 235% increment.

“We are aware that as soon as funds are received into your Standard Bank account number 002742659 held at Southdale Branch, you immediately transfer more than 66% of the money received to Wicknell Chivayo’s Intratrek bank accounts. This is clear evidence of your participation in money laundering, where you are overcharging the Government of Zimbabwe and sending the overcharged money to individual accounts. This is in violation of South African laws and international laws.”

The MoA states that the money was meant to be paid into Better Brands’ First National Bank account in Sandton.

Chimombe and Mpofu said Chivayo betrayed them as they were supposed to receive 25% of the money being paid to the businessman.

“This money has driven him crazy and that’s why, if you check his social media, he is on a buying spree of cars, donating to different individuals across the country, yet he is failing to pay us what we agreed,” they wrote.

They suggested that the company should hold  all incoming payments to Chivayo until the matter is resolved.

“We urge you to consider the repercussions of your actions carefully. Your continued involvement in these fraudulent activities will not only damage your reputation but also put your company at significant risk of legal repercussions,” they said.

“We could have gone through our lawyers and sought relief from the court, but we prefer not to air our dirty laundry in public.”

Chivayo has been flaunting his riches on social media, including his recently acquired mansion in Chishawasha Hills. He has also been buying cars for Zanu PF-aligned musicians and members of his church, leaving many people to question where he is getting the funds.

The businessman is so close to Mnangagwa that he took him to visit Kenyan President William Ruto when he visited Zimbabwe to officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. He also visits Mnangagwa at his farm in Kwekwe.

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