HARARE – Harare City Council on Thursday voted to suspend Pomona’s waste-to-energy contract awarded to Dutch-registered Geogenic BV, while setting up a committee to review the $344 million deal.
Mayor Jacob Mafume chaired a special council meeting now dominated by councillors from the Citizens Coalition for Change, which took control of the local authority after the March by-election.
The decision to suspend the contract came after council members learned it had been signed without the council carrying out its own feasibility study, allegedly under pressure from local government minister July Moyo.
Mafume blasted “embarrassed” city officials who signed the deal without considering the consequences for taxpayers, calling the deal “the mother of all corruption”.
It was revealed during the meeting that council officials were following instructions from the Offices of the President and Cabinet, Treasury Department, Attorney General’s Office, Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA ) and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) with no consulting local residents.
Harare pays Geogenix BV USD 40 per ton delivered. The specified daily delivery is at least 550 tons, or at least 200,750 tons per year, which equates to US$8.03 million for Geogenix BV in the first year.
From the second year, the daily tonnage will increase to 650; up to 750 in the third year; 850 in year four and 1,000 tonnes per day at the start of year five, meaning Harare will pay Geogenix BV at least $14.6 million per year from 2027 to 2052.
According to the deal, if Harare fails to meet the minimum quantities, the city will continue to be charged as if it had made the deliveries to meet the annual guaranteed minimum waste quantity.
If the city of Harare decided to terminate the contract or not to respect the terms, it would pay $3.5 million to Geogenix.
Geogenix is run in Zimbabwe by Dilesh Nguwaya, an associate of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s twin sons, Sean and Collins. The company was previously known as Integrated Energy BV but changed its name after its owners, led by Albanian Mirel Mërtiri, faced allegations of corruption over waste incineration plants in their native country.
The contract was submitted to the firm in February this year. Under the terms of the agreement, the investor would design, build, operate and relocate the waste management plant from Pomona to Harare after 30 years.
Mafume was furious with council workers, who called them “embarrassed” after they allegedly placed Geogenix BV’s bids at the expense of residents’ interests.
The mayor said, “Why should we pay a tenant for our property? What do we get after bringing the trash to Pomona?
“Council officials were embarrassed to keep track of everything. Nowhere in the presentation given here (by the city engineers) was it mentioned that they would oppose the deal. Local residents do not expect us to be pushed around by the authorities concerned.”
Mafume said he fears the city will continue to lose ownership of government weapons.
“We always lose everything. Every decision is made against the Harare City Council, up to and including the taking of a dump. Everything is taken from us. Why should you accept orders from others? are they god Who will defend the city if we let it be abused? This is a time when we should say enough is enough.
City councillors were told the contract had been awarded without a public tender. It was signed after Minister July Moyo conspired with MDC Alliance councillors allied with MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora and rushed the deal through the council before CCC advisers were elected.
During the special council meeting, former acting mayor Stewart Mutizwa unsuccessfully tried to shut down discussion of Pomona by claiming it was a legal proceeding. It was rejected.
As well as appointing a committee to report on the deal within 14 days, councilors also decided to withdraw documents opposed in a lawsuit brought by local residents who wanted the deal overturned.
- Editor/ original report by Kukurigo Updates