Corruption watch: Who is benefitting from the Pomona sham deal?

The Pomona deal is probably the craziest thing that the Zimbabwean government has done since Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a confused ass that day long, long ago.

BY TAWANDA MAJONI Nothing — absolutely nothing — happens for no reason. Clutch this principle if you, at least, want to understand how things happen in Zimbabwe.

St Peter must be cracking his knuckles at the Pearl Gates as he, day in and day out, reads the news about what’s happening in Harare. He is a patient saint, everyone knows that. He definitely has the full details of the Pomona waste-to-energy deal that is hot news these days and must already have logged the sinners regarding this.

Him being him, he will keep everything to his chest till judgment day, but you don’t get the impression he is amused. That means some people are surely going to be forklifted to hell when D-day finally comes.

The Pomona deal is probably the craziest thing that the Zimbabwean government has done since Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a confused ass that day long, long ago.

Here is the line of reasoning. If an act X is absurd, it must never have been done in the first place. But, if an act X still happens and someone still insists on it, then there must be a reason for doing it. On a scale of one to 10, an absurd act is a bad act that every rational person must reject.

So, where there is stubborn insistence on the act, the person or agency insisting on it is insisting on a bad act. That also makes the person bad. But because he or she insists on it, it means there is a “good” reason for doing it. In other words, there is at least one person or agent that is going to benefit from the bad act.

That’s not the tidiest way of reasoning, of course, but it makes sense. There is rhyme in it. Especially when you start thinking of the Pomona deal.

Bits of background on it, for things to be clear. There is this giant landfill owned by the Harare City Council in the northeastern area of Harare called Pomona. For a long, long time, the council has been dumping its waste there, at least whenever it could, which was increasingly getting rarer.

Sometime in 2016, the council ran an advert inviting suitable companies to apply to implement a waste-to-energy project that would generate power for the city. None of the suitors impressed. Two years later, the municipality did another advert.

One of the companies that applied was called Integrated Energy BV, which was based in the Netherlands. Council didn’t find anything attractive about that outfit, which many whisper has a very dusky history. Nor was it impressed by the other applicants.

Along the way, this company called Integrated “died”. Then up stepped a “new” one called Geogenix BV. That’s when things started getting weird. Thing is, the people in Integrated were the same as the people you now found in Geogenix.  Including Delish Nguwaya as the black face in the mix.

But government, using a full load of cabinet ministers, decided that the Pomona waste-to-energy project, suddenly, was of national importance. So, July Moyo, the Local Government minister, took a quick trip to Town House and yelled at the acting mayor, acting chamber secretary and all sorts of other unhelpful people to gather in the boardroom. Which they did, together with some shady chaps from the Office of the President and Cabinet. That was in late February this year.

The acting mayor, a Mr Mutizwa, seconded that the deal be adopted after a hasty MOU, which then quickly morphed into an MOA.

The deal looked like a contract coming from the hottest part of hell. All of a sudden, council no longer had say on its own landfill, practically. In fact it had to pay some US$22,000 a day to Geogenix every day for dumping its own waste on its own land. By the fifth year, it would be paying double that amount. And that also included even if the council didn’t dump a single pin in there. If it wanted out of the deal, it still had to pay several millions for being rude.

Main problem is, the money to pay Geogenix is supposed to come from us, the ratepayers.  Forget that goo about government saying it is the guarantor of the deal. The money will still come from us even then. That means a “foreign” company had, just like that, seized a Zimbabwean property and had the legal leeway to force us to pay it as a thank you for the nonsense.

Right! And this was all done without going to tender as is required. Something that July Moyo has no problem acknowledging even in court.

Question of the day, then, is: Who, exactly, is eating from the deal? There is this temptation to pin it on July Moyo, given the heavy amounts of energy he has already put into the deal. Imagine a whole cabinet minister swooping on Town House to cajole the acting mayor and the other culprits into accepting a deal that even Lucifer would laugh his heart out at.

Who does that if he is not eating from the trough? Fine, it’s still possible that the minister is doing a good meal out of the deal. But it’s a bit stretched that he is the ultimate eater here. Imagine a whole cabinet of ministers approving the deal without even batting an eyelid.

So, let’s agree. July Moyo is most likely to be there, but he is not sitting at the head of the table. To understand this suspicion, let’s talk a bit about this dude called Nguwaya. He is that guy who made overnight millions selling Covid-19 stuff at prices that you have never had about before and even got arrested for that. He was the black face for a shady company called Drax.

He is said to be the local director of Geogenix. There is nothing about Delish that would convince you that he is what heaven ordered for an international investor, no. So, the answer must lie elsewhere. If you care, that’s what the big fish do when they are eating. They put the small fish in front. Meaning that Delish is actually a front for someone. But who?

If there was a way of talking to Saint Peter right now, things would be easy. He knows every detail about everything that happens in this world. So, he would give us the answer. But you Saint Peter. He doesn’t do things before time.

Us — as heavenly creatures — can only guess who the ultimate eaters are. There are hints already. When Draxgate was playing out, some telling things happened. Collins, the son to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, battled to distance himself from Delish when things were heating up. He even issued a press statement denying that he knew Delish personally or professionally. But nosy people busted him. They brought out pictures of Delish with Collins, the president and the first family at large. That was good enough to support the claim that Delish was connected to the first family. Possibly, some members of the family were connected to Delish in the Drax scandal.

Let’s be a little direct with this. It’s really tempting to link the first family or some of its members to the Pomona scam. One, it’s now known that Delish enjoys some intimacy with the first family. That’s not enough to prove that the first family or any of its members is involved in the Pomona deal, of course.

Perception is stubborn, though. Mnangagwa has hardly talked on the Pomona deal. He has decided to plug his eyes and ears. Under normal circumstances, a fake deal like the Pomona one sends a head of state straight home to grow pumpkins and sweet potatoes. July Moyo admits that the Pomona deal was irregular. Yet the president decides to remain quiet about it and even chairs cabinet meetings that approve the sham deal and pushes for its implementation despite all sense.

Even if the president or any member of his family is not eating off Pomona, the president is blameworthy for not taking corrective action.

The fact that the OPC has been involved in this deal makes things worse for the president, in particular. July can’t be so powerful as to frog march all cabinet ministers, the OPC and even the president.

There is no clear answer on who is the ultimate eater in the Pomona deal, though. Your guess is just as good as mine.

  • Tawanda Majoni is the national coordinator at Information for Development Trust (IDT) and can be contacted on [email protected]

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