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Pomona saga rages: Treasury to continue paying Geogenix despite Harare City Council cancelling US$700 million project

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By Anna Chibamu

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LOCAL Government Minister, July Moyo insists government will continue paying the balance for the controversial Pomona waste-to-energy deal despite Harare City Council having cancelled the agreement worth over US$700 million.

Moyo confirmed in Parliament last Wednesday that despite the local authority ditching the shady deal, Treasury would continue to pay the outstanding balance

Harare City cancelled the agreement with Geogenix and the negotiated arrangement, which was underwritten by Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) as guarantor.

Asked by opposition legislators on why the government had continued to fund the project, the minister replied that anything that would be abrogated was to be taken over by government and it had done so.

Harare City shot down the deal recently after a public outcry, and failure to raise the required funds for the waste-to-energy management project.

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Council reported the undertaking would gobble US$22 000 a day Harare though Mayor Jacob Mafume had made it clear council could not afford it.

For several months, MPs from CCC sought Moyo’s presence in the House to answer questions on the project.

Moyo, who was repeatedly said to be out of the country on government business, only resurfaced last week. He was grilled Wednesday by CCC MPs over the matter.

“Government is paying so that Pomona can be fixed and it is being fixed. It is enjoined to make sure that the project does not default and will take the risk of that default,” Moyo said.

However, Kambuzuma CCC MP, Willias Madzimure asked Moyo where he got the authority to pay a private company through the use of devolution funds without the authority of the City of Harare and Parliament?

Local government minister July Moyo

Moyo insisted the deal was entered into by the government and Harare City.

Madzimure further questioned, “Minister, did you bring the agreement to this House and also what Act of this House allowed the ministry to disburse the money intended for devolution without the authority of the City of Harare?”

Moyo: “When we have a government guarantee over any entity in the country and if there is a potential default, Treasury is the one which undertakes to take over the payment and it is paying.

Another legislator wanted to know why the government was still guaranteeing a project that no longer existed to which Moyo alleged the deal was not properly cancelled.

“We did not want to be in default and, therefore, we have gone ahead to make sure that we protect the integrity of the country in terms of investments and in terms of doing a job, which we know we have to do and that is why we are going ahead with that project,” said Moyo.

Harare East MP, Rusty Markham intervened saying, “how can devolution funds be used to guarantee a project in perpetuity? Minister Moyo is making the decision to use devolution funds for this year. That is fine, but in perpetuity next year, he is guaranteeing with devolution funds which have not been approved yet. How can he do that?”

Moyo dismissed Markham’s claims, telling the House that there was nowhere in the agreement where the deal read it was guaranteed by devolution funds.

Harare East MP, Tendai Biti said, “The Constitution in Section 264 says local authorities are run by elected people and not the Honourable Minister. What is the Honourable Minister’s take in this corrupt agreement.

“What is so special that you have a joint venture agreement, a Triple P where the private sector is being paid by a broke public sector? This is unheard of, unprecedented, immoral and unacceptable?”

Moyo simply said: “We joined in the appraisal as government and we have the responsibility over our lower tier authorities throughout the country, not just Harare.

“We have gone ahead and appended our guarantee and that is why we are going ahead with the full appraisal of the technical people of the City of Harare.”