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Govt diverts devolution funds to stinking Pomona deal

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MEMBERS of Parliament have accused the government of violating the constitution by illegally channeling devolution funds as surety in case the City of Harare fails to meet its US$22 000-per-day financial obligation in the controversial Pomona waste management deal.

MARY MUNDEYA

The legislators want the deal cancelled.

Opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change councillors this month resolved to reverse the deal which was pushed through by Local Government minister July Moyo in connivance with MDC-T councillors. The government however insists the deal will be implemented as per plan.

The devolution and decentralisation policy was adopted as a key component of Zimbabwe’s constitution in 2013.

It is aimed at providing recognition of the right of communities to manage their affairs, further their own development and to ensure the equitable sharing of local and national resources.

 Under the policy, local authorities in consultation with residents are supposed to independently decide how devolution funds are used in line with the needs of the community.

The government however unilaterally undertook to protect all guarantees made in the waste management deal between the City of Harare and Netherlands-based company Geogenix BV. The government offered to avail devolution funds so that the local authority is able to meet the deal’s punishing financial obligations.

“Government undertakes to protect all guarantees made in this agreement against policy changes for a period of 30 years. Government undertakes to support the City of Harare through devolution funds to meet its financial obligations, for the gate entry fees, for the minimum guaranteed quantities of waste and to enhance its refuse collection fleet for a period of 5 years,” the deal reads.

Harare North legislator Allan Markham told The NewsHawks that the imposition by the government of how the capital city’s devolution funds should be used is a joke which violates the constitution.

“This a joke clearly violating the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Devolution funds have no law or Bill or Act governing them thus they are being distributed ad nauseum by the minister of Local Government, July Moyo. According to the constitution, devolution funds are not there to guarantee debt anyway,” the legislator said.

Markham queried why the clause was included in the agreement without consulting stakeholders.

“No consultation on that clause was done by either government or council to different stakeholders including residents who have not been receiving proper service delivery. The devolution funds guarantee is giving the developer who is working in cahoots with government ad nauseum to do what they want. They have already started charging the gate entry fees, and what if they take years to build the energy generation plant?

“We are calling for the revoking and re-issuing of the waste management deal under a proper tendering process. It must be very clear that we are pro-waste energy programmes; what we are not pro is the corruption and underhand dealing of issuing the contracts

that has resulted in the abuse of devolution funds in this case,” he said.

Speaking during a recent live National Assembly question-and-answer session, Harare East MP Tendai Biti (pictured) questioned why the ministry of Local Government had for over a decade failed to table before Parliament a law that governs devolution.

“Madam Speaker Ma’am, the disbursement of devolution funds provided by Section 301 presupposes the existence of an Act of Parliament, that Act of Parliament is not there.  How are they distributing devolution funds when that Act of Parliament is not there?” Biti asked.

“Secondly Hon Speaker Ma’am, why 11 years after the enactment of that constitution have they failed to bring a law to Parliament dealing with devolution, chapter 14 of the constitution?”

In a separate interview with The NewsHawks, Biti expressed disappointment with the diversion of devolution funds. He said Harare residents are unconstitutionally being robbed of an opportunity to live in better communities.

“I’m disappointed with how Harare residents are being unconstitutionally denied an opportunity to live in better communities. How does government in the absence of a governing law just wake up and impose on how devolution funds are to be used, worse off through a shady deal?”asked Biti.

Responding to Biti’s questions innthe National Assembly, deputy Local Government minister Marian Chombo said that the lack of a legislative framework did not mean that her ministry had to halt community development.

 “Do we just keep the money and not develop the communities until that legal instrument is in place?”

She said the Attorney-General was seized with the Bill, adding it would be tabled before Parliament soon.

“For sure, the Attorney-General is seized with that Bill, and it is coming to Parliament very soon,” she said.

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