Pomona saga: Harare handed shock US$750k ‘garbage’ bill

A special council meeting on Thursday voted for the suspension of the 30-year waste management deal between the Netherlands based Geogenix BV fronted by businessman, Delish Nguwaya and the local authority.

BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA HARARE City Council has been handed a US$750 000 bill by the controversial company that is now managing its main dumpsite after it drilled a borehole and constructed a four-roomed house at the site, it has been revealed.

A special council meeting on Thursday voted for the suspension of the 30-year waste management deal between the Netherlands based Geogenix BV fronted by businessman, Delish Nguwaya and the local authority.

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Delish Nguwaya

The deal, forced down ratepayers’ throats by the central government, will see Geogenix BV pocketing over US$240 million at US$22 000 a day from council for waste deliveries.

It was signed by councillors belonging to Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC Alliance who fiercely fought against the suspension of the deal on Thursday, but without success.

Harare mayor Jacob Mafume yesterday said council would not pay the bill as he insisted that city fathers had suspended the contract despite Local Government minister July Moyo’s statements that Geogenix’s deal could not be reversed.

“Issues of governance are not a competition of essay writing. The council resolved.

“The signatories of the deal are cancelled.

“The council has resolved to suspend the deal and investigate it,” Mafume told The Standard in an exclusive interview.

Jacob Mafume

“Already the company has sent an invoice of US$750 000 after drilling a borehole and building a four-roomed cottage at the site.

“The council is not going to pay, and the council resolution is not going to be suspended through an essay writing competition.

“The project will not go on.”

Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Harare North MP Allan Markham filed an application at the High Court seeking an order for the cancellation of the deal.

Markham told The Standard that he feared the project would bankrupt the city.

Allan Markham

“What I have a problem with is the project will bankrupt the city,” he said.

“I also have a problem with the fact that there is no bankable feasibility study done as required by the city or the investor.

“Whatever the minister (Moyo) is saying is irrelevant and whatever the councillors have adopted is correct because the contract, the way it was done, is totally wrong.”

Moyo, who has been at the centre of the controversial deal, on Friday issued a statement where he dismissed the council resolution.

“We condemn this conduct, which amounts to cheap political grandstanding at the expense of the country, and it is, therefore, necessary to state that the project will not be stopped unless done so by judicial action,” Moyo said.

In his weekly column published in the state-controlled media, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba said the project had grown bigger than council and alleged that CCC councillors were the ones who pushed for the deal.

“The idea of a waste treatment plant belongs to Triple C, both before and after the split. The idea of siting it at Pomona was triple C’s,” Charamba claimed.

George Charamba

“It is now a national project, meaning Harare City Council cannot make it or break it, full stop.

“All this prattle about Mafume cancelling the deal is mere warming of idle jaws through inane jabber and for political posturing.”

But contrary to Charamba’s claims that the deal was the council’s brainchild, in June last year, the government said it had approved a partnership between HCC and “a Netherlands” Investor, GeoGenix BV.

This was after then-acting mayor Stewart Mutizwa, whose rise to the post was supported by Moyo, claimed that Geogenix won the contract after submitting an unsolicited bid.

Investigations conducted by The Standard have shown that GeoGenix BV changed its name from Integrated Energy B.V (IEBV), the same company council controversially awarded the same project in 2019.

It was established that several other companies had expressed interest in the project, contrary to claims by Mutizwa.

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

The company did not participate in the tendering process, and was not one of the three companies that did not respond to a tender invitation for the project in 2017.

It was, however, given the contract in 2019 in violation of the Procurement Act which required that contracts exceeding US$1 million be awarded through a public tender.

IEBV was given the contract after allegedly approaching Moyo, and proposed to construct the plant on a build, operate and transfer arrangement.

Moyo then allegedly directed the council to consider the company, despite the fact that it did not participate in the tendering process.

Before the Geogenix deal, the council was forced to terminate the memorandum of understanding (MoU) it had signed with IEBV in May 2021 for the construction of a US$134 million waste management incinerator at Pomona.

This was after the firm demanded an upfront payment running into millions of dollars, it has emerged.

This was also despite IEBV having indicated that it could raise the full amount required for the construction of the incinerator on a 30-year build, operate and transfer (BOT) arrangement.

According to reports by City News Albania, IEBV changed its name to GeoGenix BV on February 13, 2021.

Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development programmes manager John Maketo said the Pomona saga showed the levels of interference by central government in the running of local authorities.

“This Pomona scandal is a single manifestation that shows that we are far from actualising the implementation of the devolution concept,” Maketo said.

“Government cannot delegate authority and take it back willy-nilly.

“It is mind boggling why the investor insists on a deal which the public have rejected.”

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