Koko the Energy Clown Awarded 100MW Solar Project in Zimbabwe

  • Zimbabwe has awarded Matshela Koko, the controversial former CEO and head of generation of South African power utility, Eskom, a contract to build a 100MW solar power plant in Gwanda, Matabeleland South.
  • The contract was formally warded to an equally controversial Wicknall Chivayo, a Zimbabwe national who was also given US 5 million of tax payers money to develop the project and has nothing to show for it. Read: ‘The ugly side of renewable energy in Zimbabwe’.

In a government notice published in local media last week, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) said Koko, through his company Matshela Energy (Private) Limited, had been granted a licence to ‘construct, own, operate and maintain the 100 megawatt solar plant called Matshela Energy – Gwanda Timber Farm Solar Power Plant for the purposes of generation and supply of electricity.’

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission & Distribution Company (ZETDC) implemented a wide scale load shedding programme in May 2019 plunging the country into darkness. The country has been forced to cut power generation at their Kariba Dam power plant due to low water levels. The dam, on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, is only 34% full and cannot generate electricity at optimal capacity. The utility is also facing generation constraints at Hwange Power Station.

In South Africa, Koko is accused of feed confidential company information to third parties in order for them to exploit business opportunities with the utility while he was acting CEO of Eskom, the country’s power utility. This opened the doors for the likes of McKinsey and Trillian to secure multi-million rand contracts with the company.

Koko resigned one hour before his disciplinary hearing last year after he was charged with lying to Parliament about payments to McKinsey and Trillian, sharing sensitive and classified documents, as well as accepting free flights to Dubai from the controversial Gupta family. Read: Koko: The Energy Clown’s Days are numbered.  

Koko is also accused of ‘engineering’ Eskom tenders in favour of his family. His wife received millions of rands via a company awarded contracts by the power utility. Documents in the possession of state capture investigators suggest the money flowed to companies where Koko’s wife, Mosima, is a director.

The money was channelled through Eskom service provider Impulse International, where Mosima’s 27-year-old daughter, Koketso Choma, was a nonexecutive director. Impulse raked in contracts worth about R1-billion from Eskom after Choma joined the company on April 1 2016. Koko has claimed that he did not know his stepdaughter was a director at Impulse when the company was awarded a string of Eskom contracts.

After resigning from Eskom, Koko has since reinvented himself on social media as an ‘energy expert’ regularly criticising current managers and the Eskom Board on Twitter . Some media houses have unwittingly featured him in interviews where he makes claims that he was pushed out of Eskom because he refused to sign agreements with Independent Power Producers.

Related news: Zimbabwe’s head of Energy and Power Development, Minister Fortune Chasi  also recently fired the entire ZESA Board Friday amid the load shedding crisis the country faces. Read more

More related news: The Minister also recently announced that he is contemplating cancelling over 30 Independent Power Producer contracts because the projects have never materialised. Read more

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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