July Moyo vows only a court will stop Pomona contract after council vote

HARARE – The US$344 million contract to convert waste to energy at Harare’s Pomona dumpsite can only be stopped by a court, local government minister July Moyo insisted on Friday, a day after councillors voted to suspend and investigate the awarding of the contract.

Harare councillors resolved to suspend the contract awarded to Netherlands-registered Geogenix BV, while a committee would be set up to review the transaction which residents have challenged in court.

On Friday, Moyo angrily condemned the councillors’ decision.

“It’s confounding that a group of councillors have decided to, once again, to appraise this project and in the process causing needless delays and, the risk of jeopardising 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.”

He defended the project, insisting that it followed all procedures while the investment appraisal was done by the Zimbabwe investment Development Agency and scrutinised by government lawyers.

“The waste management project, amongst other benefits, will create employment, generate power and assist in refuse management,” he said.

“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.”

Councillors say the contract was foisted on the city by Moyo without proper due diligence being conducted on Geogenix, which is owned by Albanian Mirel Mertiri, who is under investigation for corruption in his home country. Harare councillors, sitting during a special council meeting, also heard that the local authority did not conduct an independent feasibility study on the project.

The contract was rushed through the council after opposition councillors were controversially recalled and the mayor Jacob Mafume arrested. The Citizens Coalition for Change has now seized control of the council after by-elections in March, and Mafume presided over Thursday’s meeting after the High Court stopped a fourth attempt to suspend him by Moyo.

Councillors say the deal is corrupt and designed to benefit Mertiri and his local partners, including the controversial businessman Dilesh Nguwaya who is a business partner of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s twin sons Sean and Collins.

Harare will pay Geogenix BV US$40 per tonne of waste delivered. The stipulated daily delivery is at least 550 tonnes or a minimum 200,750 tonnes per year – translating to US$8.03 million for Geogenix BV in the first year.
By the second year, the daily tonnage will rise to 650; going up to 750 in the third year; 850 in the fourth year and 1,000 tonnes per day at the start of the fifth year, meaning Harare will pay Geogenix BV a minimum US$14.6 million annually starting in 2027 until 2052.
Harare councillors resolved not to oppose a court application made by residents seeking to nullify the contract.

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