…we cannot afford US$1 million a month
…council already choking on other debts
DESPITE threats from Local Government and Public Workers minister July Moyo for Harare to pay a US$1 million debt to Geogenix BV, a Netherlands-based company, under the controversial US$400 million Pomona waste-to-energy deal, the city fathers say they have no capacity to pay, pointing out that the money would be enough to fund the construction of a new capital city in the next few years.
Moyo wrote to council last week ordering the local authority to pay over US$1 million it now owes Geogenix BV for May for dumping garbage at Pomona dumpsite.
Harare mayor Jacob Mafume (pictured) said Moyo’s demands were misplaced and the letter will be read out in the next full council meeting to hear the views of councillors on the matter.
“We will take it to full council,” Mafume said. “That amount of money in 30 years can build a new city.”
“We have received two letters from the minister. He is not party to the contract nor is the ministry so therefore we believe the contractor (Geogenix BV) knows what to do if they want to enforce their rights.”
He said the local authority’s decision to suspend the deal during its last full council meeting still stands.
“We have made a decision as council which is in the best interest of the residents. We will read the letter to full council and see whether the council and the councillors agree with the interpretations by the minister, but it does not make sense for a landlord to pay rentals for his own property,” Mafume said.
“How the minister sees sense in that is beyond the residents and the council. If they are aggrieved by our decision, the contractor knows the forums to go to.”
Asked whether his meeting with senior Geogenix officials last month has managed to yield any positive results, Mafume said they were tasked with writing a letter but the foreign firm only availed what appeared like a letter of demand.
“They did not bring anything but the letter of demand. We want our committee to finish its work and once it’s done, we get direction. We simply cannot afford to pay US$1 million per month for 30 years. That is not possible, council does not have the amount of money.”
Harare set up a committee to probe the deal and is set to avail its findings next week.
Mafume said council has no capacity to pay as it owes dozens of stakeholders.
“Council is owed billions in current value. We owe stakeholders a lot of money.”
In his letter, Moyo claimed the burden of failing to pay by Harare will be felt by the government and will also burden residents, but did not explain how residents will be burdened.
“Needless to say, the failure and/or neglect to pay the May invoice has serious repercussions, not only with respect to council’s obligations, but also on government who is guarantor of the project.”
“Your failure and/or neglect to pay has resulted in accumulation of arrears including interest due to the project.”
“In my considered view, the above-mentioned resolutions were gratuitous and not in the interests of the inhabitants of Harare and the public at large, a burden which is now cascading to the inhabitants and therefore cannot be allowed.”