- Harare City Council cancels a 30-year waste-to-energy agreement between the local authority and Geogenix BV
- The local authority also disregarded Local Government minister July Moyo’s order that the council pays a US$1.5 million bill due to Geogenix BV for services rendered in May and June at the Pomona waste management energy plant
- Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) approached the courts to declare that the directive by Moyo as well as the utilization of devolution funds to pay Geogenix B. V contractual obligations are unlawful
The Harare City Council has resolved to cancel the Pomona waste management deal that was imposed on the local authority by the Local Government ministry.
According to Fair Planet, the 30-year Build-Own-Operate-Transfer project was meant to generate 22 megawatts of electricity by converting the city’s waste, which until now has been dumped at Pomona – a dumpsite on the outskirts of the city. A joint venture firm called Geo-Pomona Waste Management (Pvt) Ltd was tapped to spearhead the project.
Harare mayor Jacob Mafume confirmed that the local authority had cancelled the Pomona deal.
“I can confirm that we cancelled the Pomona deal. We came to this agreement in the last meeting we had,” Mafume said in an interview.
“We are a council and we make our decisions. If they are unhappy they go to court. Once we make a resolution it’s binding and stands.”
The Local Government ministry has been accusing the City of Harare of frustrating the deal which was given national project status.
According to an article by Bulawayo24 published August 7, 2022, the local authority also disregarded Local Government minister July Moyo’s order that the council pays a US$1.5 million bill due to Geogenix BV for services rendered in May and June at the Pomona waste management energy plant.
New Zimbabwe in an article dated June 24, 2022, said the ministry of local government wrote to the Harare city council ordering the local authority to pay up the ballooning Pomona dumpsite bill.
But the council refused to pay the bill after resolving to suspend the 30-year agreement between the local authority and Geogenix BV, represented by its executive chairperson Delish Nguwaya.
“I have taken note of the contents of the letter dated June 10, 2022, in which you state that you are unable to pay the invoice raised by Geo Pomona in the amount of US$780 890 for the month of May,” said local government permanent secretary Zvinechimwe Churu in the letter which was addressed to Harare’s town clerk.
“May I remind you that the action not to pay has serious consequences, not only with respect to the council’s obligations but also on the government who is the guarantor to the project.
“Failure to pay will result in accumulation of debt through interest, arrears, penalties, and fees due and payable.”
The local government permanent secretary added; “The amount will become unsustainable should the stance be sustained beyond the May payment.
“We request a response from you that you will honour the bill for May as well as the other coming months as they fall due.
“It is thus our expectation that the operations at Pomona should continue uninterrupted and council shall abide by the contractual terms provided for in the existing contract.”
The government later resolved that the state would use the city’s devolution funds forcing the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) to approach the courts. The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) also cited the city of Harare (CoH) and Geogenix B.V as a respondent in an urgent chamber application filed through Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
CHRA is seeking to bar an order issued by Moyo on July 7 ordering CoH to stop all investigations into the Pomona deal and reverse its suspension.
They want the courts to declare that the directive by Moyo as well as the utilization of devolution funds to pay Geogenix B. V contractual obligations unlawful.
In a letter by Scanlen and Holderness addressed to Moyo dated July 18, the residents’ lawyers said the council had a right to govern its affairs in line with the Urban Councils Act.
“The right conferred on the City of Harare as aforesaid has further complimented Chapter 14 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides for the concept of devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities to metropolitan councils and local authorities which are competent to carry out those responsibilities efficiently and effectively,” they said.
“In so far as the resolution to suspend the Pomona Waste to Energy Project is concerned, it is our client’s position that it is scandalous for the Ministry to be on the forefront of protecting an agreement which binds the City of Harare to hand over the Pomona Dump Site to Geogenix for nothing for a period of 30 years and yet the City of Harare is expected to pay US$40 000 per day to dump waste it would have collected at its own cost and delivered to its dumpsite.”
Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum, Transparency International Zimbabwe, Zimcodd, and other civic organizations also condemned the deal as scandalous.
“We would like to make it very clear that this scandal is a direct attack on the devolution of power provided for in Chapter 14 of the Constitution since the project was imposed by the central government on the City of Harare,” the groups said.
According to an article by PR Newswire published on March 23, 2022, the global market for Biomass and Waste-to-Energy estimated at US$30.5 Billion in the year 2022, is projected to reach a revised size of US$38 Billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 5.2 per cent over the analysis period. Thermal is projected to grow at a 5 per cent CAGR to reach US$32 Billion by the end of the analysis period..
After a thorough analysis of the business implications of the pandemic and its induced economic crisis, growth in the Biological segment is readjusted to a revised 6.1 per cent CAGR for the next 7-year period. This segment currently accounts for an 11.4 per cent share of the global Biomass and Waste-to-Energy market.
The densely populated metropolitan areas face enormous challenges in dealing with the waste being produced daily, which has in turn brought into focus industrial waste incineration. With areas available for use as landfills for municipal waste becoming difficult to find, the focus is shifting towards thermal waste recovery. Several new plants are built in metropolitan areas across the world, owing to the growing shortage of land required for landfill sites.