BY TAPFUMANEI MUCHABAIWA
PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson George Charamba has threatened Harare mayor Jacob Mafume with arrest for opposing Cabinet’s decision to endorse the US$240 million Pomona waste management deal for the city.
The threat comes after a tense Harare City Council (HCC) special meeting last week resolved to suspend the deal between Netherlands-based Geogenix BV company and HCC, which will see Geogenix BV pocketing US$22 000 per day for 30 years.
Charamba yesterday told NewsDay: “The government is not taking over the Pomona project, but is merely approving the project. The project owners are the Harare City Council and what the government is simply doing is to approve, and there is a difference between approving and taking over. The council voluntarily took the project to the minister (Local Government) for consideration. The minister cannot disown the minutes that he took to Cabinet.
The LOOTING has started, Harare Council has been given a bill of US$750,000 for 34 days by the #PomonaScandal mafia!
There is a method to this madness, Harare City will say it has no money.
Then July Moyo will say he will get it from the City’s devolution fund!
Outright THEFT! pic.twitter.com/V1twYaarHq
— Hopewell Chin’ono (@daddyhope) June 4, 2022
“If this little lawyer whom you call the Mayor of Harare (Jacob Mafume) insists on opposing the Cabinet decision, he must know for sure that we will end up locking him (up) in prison. He will be a suitable candidate for Chikurubi (Maximum Security Prison).”
But Mafume remained adamant, saying he was unfazed by Charamba’s threats.
“How does he run government by threats? What crime have I committed? If it’s a council decision, then we no longer want it. Why does he threaten me all the time? Does he want me to die in Chikurubi? Why does he want to kill me for saying the truth?”
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has been petitioned to investigate the circumstances leading to the controversial agreement.
— NewsDay Zimbabwe (@NewsDayZimbabwe) June 6, 2022
Civic society groups and residents’ groups have also questioned the corrupt deal as it is likely to cost taxpayers.
Last week, HCC was handed a US$750 000 bill by Geogenix BV fronted by businessman, Delish Nguwaya, but the local authority refused to foot the bill.
Centre for Natural Resource Governance director Farai Maguwu said government’s insistence that the project should go on despite that it is mired in corruption proved that some powerful people could be involved.
“Corruption is writ large on that deal. The insistence indicates that the deal was instructed by someone with enormous power such that despite the public disapproval, it will still go ahead. Otherwise the irregularities of the deal, including the absence of an open tender and the ridiculous fees the struggling City of Harare is forced to pay, should have resulted in the suspension of the project and setting up of a commission of inquiry leading to possible arrest of those involved,” Maguwu said.
He pointed out that the fact that Nguwaya, who was also mentioned in the multi-million dollar Drax saga for the purchase of COVID-19 personal protective equipment, is involved was enough to raise a red flag.
“These filthy deals are haemorrhaging the country, and it also confirms meddling by central government in council affairs,” Maguwu said.
Political analyst Vivid Gwede said: “The Pomona saga exposes how central government interferes in the running of councils. The deal, which was penned without going to tender, raises a lot of questions as it resulted from a dubious process.”
Economist Victor Boroma also said: “The waste collection and recycling mandate falls under the City of Harare. I do not see how the government can stop an investigation or allow the deal to continue when HCC said it should not continue. People have the right to refuse the deal because they will pay for the fees through taxes.”
- Follow Tapfuma on Twitter @tapfumanei03