GOVERNMENT was yesterday forced to make a U-turn on the Pomona waste management deal after the Harare City Council dug in and refused to pay for dumping waste at Pomona, now managed by the Netherlands-based Geogenix BV.
Local Government minister July Moyo had ordered the council to pay a US$1,5 million bill due to Geogenix BV for services rendered in May and June at the Pomona waste management energy plant.
But the council refused to pay the bill after resolving to suspend the 30-year agreement between the local authority and Geogenix BV, represented by its executive chairperson Delish Nguwaya.
Council representatives, who include Harare mayor Jacob Mafume, yesterday morning met Moyo to map a way forward on the Pomona deal.
“We met at the ministry’s office and Moyo said the government will take over payments, but we made it very clear that they will not touch council funds or devolution funds,” Mafume said.
“We also demanded our dumpsite back,” he added.
Moyo could not be reached for comment despite repeated efforts.
In a letter dated July 7, 2022, addressed to Mafume and copied to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda, Moyo had said his office objected to the resolution that was passed by council suspending the deal.
“In terms of your contract, the passing of a resolution does not in any way expunge the obligations set out in the contract by operation of any laws,” Moyo had written.
However, there has been resistance to the waste management deal from various quarters, with the Combined Harare Residents Association also engaging lawyers to push for its cancellation.
In a letter by Scanlen and Holdersness addressed to Moyo dated July 18, the residents’ lawyers said council had a right to govern its affairs in line with the Urban Councils Act.
“The right conferred on the City of Harare as aforesaid has further complimented Chapter 14 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides for the concept of devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities to metropolitan councils and local authorities which are competent to carry out those responsibilities efficiently and effectively,” they said.
“In so far as the resolution to suspend the Pomona Waste to Energy Project is concerned, it is our client’s position that it is scandalous for the Ministry to be on the fore-front of protecting an agreement which binds the City of Harare to hand over the Pomona Dump Site to Geogenix for nothing for a period of 30 years and yet the City of Harare is expected to pay US$40 000 per day to dump waste it would have collected at its own cost and delivered to its own dumpsite.”
On Tuesday, the Harare Residents Trust (HRT) also condemned the waste management deal as too costly for the local authority.
“The government should cause the total cancellation without prejudice to the ratepayers in Harare of the waste to energy project if the terms of the deal remain unchanged.
“The estimated total cost to the City of Harare of the project is US$417 870 000. The question for most Harare residents is: what exactly would Geogenix BV have done to deserve that huge payment from their coffers?” HRT said. Newsday