Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Chivayo denies Grace Mugabe ties

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HARARE businessman Wicknell Chivhayo has distanced himself from Grace Mugabe as the jailbird entrepreneur feels the hit under the new dispensation which is putting allies to the former first family under pressure.

According to NewZimbabwe.com, the show-off tycoon ran a mile from the fallen Grace Mugabe while appearing before a legislative oversight committee on Monday.

Chivhayo was thought to be close to the Mugabes and appeared to confirm the speculation by flaunting on social media photographs showing him apparently on holiday with Grace in Dubai.

On Monday, Magwegwe opposition legislator Anele Ndebele asked directly whether the Gwanda tender was awarded because of the Mugabe ties, considering that Chivayo's company had no experience in the area and was barely a year old at the time.

Responding, Chivhayo denied the ousted Mugabes aided his business interests but refused to describe the nature of their relationship.

"I am not related to the former first family and at no given time did they interfere or assist me," said Chivhayo.

Committee member and Zengeza West MP Simon Chidhakwa (MDC-T) grilled Chivayo demanding him to explain how he managed to manipulate ZPC to pay in advance and whether he had used Grace to get the payments authorised by Undenge.

"I am not related to the former First Family and at no time did they interfere or assist me to ensure the tenders were awarded to me by the SPB. The First Family have no influence in the SPB," Chivayo said.

Committee chair Temba Mliswa joined in the grilling, saying: "The MPs are asking that question because the First Lady, Grace, was the government in power and that is why Parliament impeached Mugabe. Did she not influence the decision that you be awarded the contract and get paid, which prompted Undenge to take the matter to Cabinet?"

In response, Chivayo said he had applied for the tender in 2013 when Mavhaire was Energy minister and the contract was then signed in 2015 when Undenge had taken over as minister.

Chivayo also denied insinuations that his social media stunts, where he posted pictures of himself dining with Grace, were meant to confirm that he was well-connected.