In a new twist to the Pomona dumpsite deal controversy, the government has decided to divert devolution funds intended for the development of the Harare Metropolitan to pay for three months’ worth of arrears to Georgenix B.V.
This comes after Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume yesterday announced that council was pulling out of the deal citing serious anomalies in the deal which has also been castigated for being abruptly signed under hazy circumstances.
However, in a statement released by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works late yesterday, government was determined to see Council settle arrears for May, June and July and undertaken to use devolution funds.
“The understanding would be that the local authority‘s capacity would improve over the years and eventually would be able to pay the obligations on their own. In particular, Government as the Guarantor, has undertaken to pay the May, June and July installments while council comes up with strategies to improve its financial systems,” wrote Secretary in the Ministry for Local Government and Public Works, Zvinechimwe Churu.
Harare mayor, Jacob Mafume, on Monday told journalists that the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC)-run council had initially disputed legality of such a move but had yielded to pressure from local government minister; July Moyo to pay the Netherlands based investors in the waste to energy deal.
“As council we do not have money. If the ministry wants the money to be paid, they made a guarantee as government and said they will use devolution funds. We will take the receipts to them, so they pay from that side,” said Mafume.
“We will be exercising our option in terms of the law on what to do with the position they have but as for now, we as the council do not have the money to pay US$1 million per month to the company called Geogenix because as the councillors have said, we do not see what we are paying for when they had said they would give us the money, but we have not received it and the electricity but we are being told to give them money amounting to US$1 million per month.”
However, government accuses Mafume and other “belligerent” councilors of working to frustrate the smooth implementation of the agreement and taking the opportunity for political grandstanding.
But observers have questioned the circumstances leading to the signing of the entire deal which never went to tender and does not appear to be beneficial to Harare, instead, it appears to be fattening the pocket of the investor.