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Govt doles out US$6m in Harare rubbish saga

A company awarded the controversial 30-year Pomona waste management deal in Harare may have pocketed at least US$6 million since March from government as the City of Harare has refused to pay a single cent.

In June, the City of Harare suspended the controversial US$240 million deal between Netherlands-based company Geogenix BV which is fronted by businessman Delish Nguwaya and the local authority.

The local authority subsequently cancelled the contract.

Last week, acting town clerk Phakamile Moyo wrote to Geogenix Bv, reminding them that the contract had been cancelled.

“Pursuant to the agreement entered between City of Harare and Geogenix BV, we advise that council resolved to terminate the contract in its sitting on the 3rd of August 2022,” Moyo wrote in a correspondence dated September 23, 2022.

Local Government minister July Moyo, who was in the forefront of the deal, however wrote a follow-up letter on September 27, 2022 telling the local authority that the deal subsisted and was binding since it had been given national project status.

But mayor Jacob Mafume yesterday said they would never pay a single cent to Geogenix BV amid indications that council would have been forced to pay US$6.4 million since March if it had not cancelled the contract.

Government says it will use Harare’s devolution funds allocation to settle the gigantic bill.

“Our position is still the same. They cannot call themselves an investor and expect money from the same council they are investing in,” Mafume told The Standard yesterday.

“It’s like a slay queen giving a blesser money. It does not work. It is against public morals, extortionate and unaffordable in the context of Zimbabwe.

“As a council, we cannot afford it.

“This contract was null and void from the beginning.

“It is so manifestly bad that it cannot be rescued in any shape or form whatsoever.”

According to Mafume, the local authority was being forced to pay US$780 000 bills a month since March for waste deliveries by Geogenix BV

“We as council are not paying,” he said.

“If anyone is paying it is not within our authority, and unfortunately I don’t superintend over the affairs of the ministry of finance.

“It is the job of Parliament to make sure that the payments are not made.

“What I can say is that the council cannot afford, and will not pay the US$780 000 per month they want.

“We have not authorised the use of our devolution funds to pay for this.

“We have not budgeted as council to authorise any deduction from our devolution funds for this project.

“The Finance ministry may be paying.”

In July, the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) filed an urgent High Court Chamber application seeking a ruling setting aside a resolution to use the city’s devolution funds to pay Geogenix BV.

A ruling is yet to be made.

Moyo, who has been at pains defending the deal, was not picking up his mobile phone on Friday and yesterday despite repeated efforts.

In a statement on September 27, Moyo said government would never allow the cancellation of the tender.

“I accordingly direct in terms of section 314 of the Urban Councils Act that council immediately rescinds the resolutions cited above which seek to not oppose court proceedings as well as the termination of the contract,” he said.

“The resolution is, in my view, in bad faith and not in public interest.”

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube was not reachable yesterday while permanent secretary George Guvamatanga was not picking up his mobile phone.

Efforts to obtain a comment from Harare secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in the Office of the President and Cabinet Tafadzwa Muguti were fruitless as the person who was answering his phone kept saying he was engaged in meetings.

Nguwaya, the local representative of Geogenix BV, said The Standard had a sinister agenda by demanding answers on Pomona.

“Why the interest in Pomona?

“There are many other issues to look at, not Pomona alone,” Nguwaya said in a telephone interview as he sought to avoid answering questions.

CHRA acting director Ruben Akili said the Pomona deal would be resisted.

“As CHRA we are against that Pomona deal,” Akili said.

“The devolution funds don’t belong to the government, they are for the residents.

“Residents should decide on how those devolution funds are going to be used.”

Harare Residents Trust director (HRT) Precious Shumba said the waste management deal was “totally unacceptable”.

“What the national government is doing in respect of imposing Geogenix BV on the City of Harare, and even making decisions on devolution funds without consulting the residents and the City of Harare is unconstitutional, unfair, unjustified and an abuse of power,” Shumba said.

According to reports by City News Albania, Integrated Energy B.V (IEBV) changed its name to Geogenix BV on February 13, 2021.

In 2019, the council awarded a US$134 million waste-to-energy project contract to IEBV under unclear circumstances.

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