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Govt to pay US$1,5 million for Pomona deal, accuses Mafume of sabotage

Government has resolved to settle the current debt the Harare City Council (HCC) is refusing to honour in the scandalous Pomona waste-to-energy deal the council says was corruptly entered into with Netherlands based company Geogenix B.V.

The Pomona project will see the City pay at least US$22 000 a day and US$14,6m a year, translating to more than US$344 million for 30 years to Geogenix B.V as the company is expected to turn waste into energy.

Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume and opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) are, however, resisting to pay for the developments made on the site so far claiming that the deal was irregularly done. They resisted to settle the money for May and June which is now more than US$1,5 million.

On Wednesday, Mafume had a meeting with Local Government Minister July Moyo in which the Mayor further stated that the city would not honour the contract.

Moyo, however, resolved that the government which is the guarantor in the deal would pay for the fees of May, June and July while the city puts its house in order.

“From the outset and taking into account the fact that Council’s ability to collect revenue is still very poor due to weaknesses in billing, collection efficiency, amongst others, Government has made an undertaking, upon request by Council, that it would initially assist the local authority in various ways as it improves its capacity to collect revenue, and this would be, inter-alia:

“Allowing council to use part of its devolution funds to honour its obligation funds; and Support council through capitalization of its waste collection equipment, infrastructure and systems.

“The understanding would be that the local authority’s capacity would improve over the years and eventually and 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 the council comes up with strategies to improve its financial systems,” read the statement by Ministry Permanent Secretary Zvinechimwe Churu.

The Ministry further accused Mafume and CCC councillors of sabotaging the project.

“However, Government takes note with concern that there are belligerent councilors within City of Harare, who include the Mayor, who are determined to frustrate the smooth implementation of this agreement which was put in place by the same Council.

“These councilors are seizing every opportunity to go to the press to vilify Government on a partnership that was consummated by council itself. Government does not find such conduct acceptable as it amounts to political grandstanding on a very serious matter.

“In the meeting held with council officials, there was determination on the part of the Mayor to terminate the agreement with Geogenix and, in the process, paying the joint venture partner US$3,5 million.

“It is apparent that these councilors are prepared to fork out this amount in ratepayers’ money regardless of the far reaching implications that such termination will occasion on the inhabitants of the city, ” further read the statement.

After the meeting yesterday, Mafume told the media that HCC warned the Minister against touching devolution funds. They also demanded their dumpsite back.

“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.

“We also demanded our dumpsite back,” Mafume said.

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