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Pomona Deal Unreasonable, Arbitrary And Places Unnecessary And Unjustified Financial Burden On The City of Harare

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Harare- THE Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) has followed with keen interest developments on the Pomona Waste Dumpsite following the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the City of Harare and Geogenix BV of the Netherlands on 8 March 2022.

 

The HRT appeals to the government of Zimbabwe to facilitate the renegotiation. Alternatively, the government should cause the total cancellation without prejudice to the ratepayers in Harare of the waste to energy project if the terms of the deal remain unchanged.

 

 

As currently constituted and structured, the deal with Geogenix BV is unreasonable, arbitrary and places unnecessary and unjustified financial burden on the City of Harare and by extension the residents of Harare. Geogenix BV has not constructed a weighbridge to quantify the garbage being delivered to Pomona Dumpsite.

 

So far the Geo Pomona Waste Management (Pvt) Ltd, the company established to represent Geogenix BV, has dismally failed to justify and explain its huge fees for each tonne of garbage delivered by the City of Harare.

 

 

Undisputed facts are that the Pomona Dumpsite belongs to the City of Harare before this deal came into effect. However, after the handover of the dumpsite to Geo Pomona Waste Management (Pvt) Ltd on 20 May 2022, the Pomona Dumpsite is now under the control and ownership of Geogenix BV for the next 30 years, meaning until 2052.

 

According to a special report presented to the Special Council meeting held at Town House on 2 June 2022 by Acting Town Clerk Engineer Pakhamile Moyo, the City of Harare did official site handover to Geogenix BV Project Company Geo Pomona Waste Management (Pvt) Ltd on 28 April 2022. This followed the signing of the Joint Statement on 27 April 2022.

 

 

The City of Harare and Geo Pomona Waste Management (Pvt) Ltd agreed to jointly operate the site until 20 May 2022, after which Geo Pomona Waste Management (Pvt) Ltd fully took over the site. The City of Harare is required to pay US$40 per tonne for every tonne of waste delivered to Pomona Dumpsite to Geo Pomona Waste Management (Pvt) Ltd.

 

 

The contract requires that the City of Harare delivers 550 tonnes, 650 tonnes, 750 tonnes and 850 tonnes respectively in the first, second, third and fourth years of the project. This means that the City of Harare has a contractual obligation to pay US$5, 4 million for 2022, US$9, 5 million in 2023, US$10, 95 million in 2024, and US$12, 4 million in 2025 respectively. This makes it US$38, 3 million for the first four years.

 

 

However, from 2026, being the fifth year, until 2052, the City of Harare has to supply 1 000 tonnes of garbage per day, amounting to US$40 000 per day, and translating to US$14, 6 million per year.

 

 

 

For the 26 years, this means the City of Harare has to pay US$379, 6 million to Geogenix BV for merely dumping garbage at Pomona Dumpsite. The estimated total cost to the City of Harare of the project is US$417 870 000.00. The question on most Harare residents is what exactly would Geogenix BV have done to deserve that huge payment from their coffers.

 

 

The HRT has observed that the City of Harare councillors have convened three special council meetings at which they made key resolutions pertaining to the Pomona Waste to Energy Project. On 28 February 2022, they resolved to adopt the project.

 

 

On 2 June 2022 a resolution was made to reverse their earlier decision and they set up an investigations committee. They followed up the 2 June 2022 resolutions by convening another special council meeting on Monday 18 July 2022 at which they resolved to request July Moyo, the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, to facilitate an engagement between the City of Harare and Geogenix BV in respect of their inability to settle the money being charged by Geogenix BV for dumping garbage at Pomona Dumpsite at a time they are failing to pay their workers.

 

 

The council also resolved to let the government divert the devolution allocation for the City of Harare to Geogenix BV. The devolution funds are disbursed to local authorities in terms of Section 301 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. It states that: “not less than five percent of the national revenues raised in any financial year must be allocated to the provinces and local authorities as their share in that year.”

 

 

The council is also struggling to provide essential services to the ratepayers of Harare. Therefore, paying Geogenix BV becomes unaffordable to the ratepayers. In view of the financial constraints being experienced by the City of Harare, the exclusion of the ratepayers in the structuring of the agreement with Geogenix BV, the steep fees charged by Geogenix BV without any investment of their own on Pomona, the residents of Harare request the government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the Office of the President and Cabinet and the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) to intervene on behalf of the residents and facilitate the re-negotiation of the whole deal.

 

 

If the renegotiation does not succeed, the residents prefer that the Waste to Energy Project be cancelled without any loss to the City of Harare. In the interest of public social accountability, the contract between the City of Harare and Geogenix BV should be made public. Similarly, the due diligence and feasibility study reports on the project and Geogenix BV have to be made available to the residents of Harare.

 

 

The government of Zimbabwe and all informed bureaucrats and policymakers who directly or indirectly took part in the negotiation of the Pomona Dumpsite deal should realise that it is in their own and public interest to act on the side of rational logic and good democratic governance than to be rigid and arrogant in the face of public criticisms of how the deal was structured.

 

 

 

There must be room to renegotiate and fix the identified anomalies, otherwise it has created the impression that certain senior government officials including those in the Office of the President and Cabinet are protecting Geogenix BV from public scrutiny for their personal financial benefits yet allowing the same to make unreasonable financial demands on the City of Harare for use of the Pomona Dumpsite.

Robert Tapfumaneyi