HARARE – The $344 million waste-to-energy contract at the Pomona landfill in Harare can only be stopped by a court, Local Government minister July Moyo stressed on Friday, a day after Harare councillors voted to stop the contract award and conduct an investigation.
Harare councilors decided to suspend the contract awarded to Dutch-registered Geogenix BV while a committee will be set up to review the deal, which local residents have challenged in court.
On Friday, Moyo who has been jumping from one corruption scandal to another, furiously condemned the decision by the councillors to stop the Pomona deal.
“It is surprising that a group of councillors have decided to re-evaluate this project, causing unnecessary delays and the risk of compromising investor appetite,” Moyo said in a statement.
“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. Again, we state that the matter is subjudice and that some members were mentioned in the legal papers.”
Moyo defended the controversial Pomona project, insisting that all procedures were followed while the investment appraisal was carried out by the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency and reviewed by government lawyers.
“The waste management project, amongst other benefits, will create employment, generate power and assist in refuse management.
“The government wishes to advise that, in consummating this transaction, rigorous processes to ensure that council and the country at large derive maximum benefits were undertaken,” said July Moyo.
Councillors say the contract was forced on the town by July Moyo without due diligence on Geogenix BV, owned by Albanian Mirel Mertiri, who is under investigation for corruption in his home country.
Councillors in Harare, sitting in a special council meeting, also learned that the local authority had not carried out an independent feasibility study on the project.
The contract was rushed by the council after opposition councilors were controversially removed from office and Mayor Jacob Mafume was arrested.
The Citizens Coalition for Change has now taken control of the council after March’s by-elections, and Mafume chaired Thursday’s session after the High Court stopped a fourth attempt by Moyo to suspend him.
Councillors agreed the deal is corrupt and designed to benefit Mertiri and his local partners, including controversial businessman Dilesh Nguwaya, who is a business partner of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s twin sons, Sean and Collins.
Harare pays Geogenix BV USD 40 per tonne of waste supplied. 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.
Harare city councillors decided not to oppose a legal challenge from local residents to cancel the contract.
- Editor/ additional report by Kukurigo Updates