The Pomona culprits must face the music

June 9, 2022

Tawanda Majoni

There are certain people and certain things that must just be collected and dumped at the Pomona dumpsite.

If they are going to catch fire and fatally burn in the perennial infernos at the dumpsite, no worries. For the people involved, they would just have gone to hell a bit too soon. They were still going to go there anyway, come Judgment Day. Considering the evil spirit of thieving in them.

We are talking about the Pomona waste management deal. As you all know, the Pomona dumpsite is situated on land that belongs to the Harare City Council. It belongs to the Harare City Council. It is the biggest dumpsite in Harare. That is, if you are not going to bring together all the makeshift dumpsites that have sprouted throughout the now sunset city. Those will beat the Pomona site hands down.

What happened is that the Local Government minister, July Moyo, took matters into his own hands—literally—and gave that site to a Dutch company called Netherlands Geogenix BV. Council officials, including the acting town clerk, okayed the deal the day the minister, very unusually, walked into Town House with a sheaf of papers and pointed to where signatures must be put.

That was the most scandalous deal ever to be signed since the Ruud Concession. Geogenix, overnight, became the owner of the dumpsite. The company would make the Harare City Council pay a whopping US$20,000 a day for all the trash that would be dumped at the Pomona site. Without as much as breaking a small sweat.

Those that signed the deal didn’t even go through the fine print. They just put their rickety signatures where Moyo pointed. These included the council secretariat and a group of musketeers calling themselves councillors.

There was always going to be a trickle-down effect. We all know that the municipality has since lost the zeal and capacity to collect garbage, so that work had been outsourced to private companies. It meant, therefore, that the companies were going to make the whopping payments to Geogenix.

On paper, it was supposed to be the council paying the money. The difference was always going to be the same considering that the companies would bill the council, at a premium. There is nothing like council paying a single dime to anyone. It was just going to knock at our doors as residents and tell us to pay. Meaning that, when all was done and dusted, the ultimate burden would be on the ratepayers.

No feasibility study was done. Even if council was going to be clever and find a new dumpsite, it wasn’t going to win the game because it would still have to pay Geogenix the daily charge of US$20,000 even without throwing a single bubblegum wrapper at Pomona.

Fine, council has seen a bit of light from its dark corridors. It has suspended the deal. But the culprits must be named and shamed. The culprits must be brought to book for their vulgar commissions.

The number one culprit is the minister himself, July Moyo. What business did he have making sneaky trips to Town House to have papers signed? Thing is, even the permanent secretary had no business going to Town House with any papers. Let alone a whole minister. That’s really shameful.

Pomona dumpsite saga continues – minister vows its irreversible -  NewZimbabwe.com
July Moyo

We still don’t have a definitive answer as to why Moyo got stuck in this rancid deal at such a personal level. But guessing is not that difficulty. If you see a cabinet minister doing things like that, it means he has his own interests in it. Not professional interests, of course. There was a chance to eat big in the deal. Which, by implication, means that Moyo had sniffed the trough.

There is something crazy and cursed about the Local Government ministry. Just about every other minister who has run that portfolio has been found in the kitchen, long fingers on the cookie jar. And, as it were, this is not the only scandal in which Moyo has been implicated. We hear there are numerous others on which people are baying for his blood, countrywide.

The thing is, Moyo must be held to account. It’s not enough to fume and curse at him. A commission of inquiry must be set up to investigate the minister. We can’t have this kind of impunity forever.

But, maybe, that’s asking for too much. The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) was in it too. It was part of the delegation that went to meet with council officials and forced them to sign the papers without exactly holding the gun against their heads. When the OPC gets entangled in dirty deals like the Pomona one, we know where we are heading for. A steep cliff.

The OPC has become so notorious for getting involved in messy things. They did it when the China Harbour Engineering Company was gifted the Robert Mugabe International Airport upgrade job, which is still ongoing. They are involved in all public tenders and procurements. They are doing just about everything. Some sort of a super ministry.

Well, the OPC must know of and give advice on deals and issues of national interest. The problem is that it’s doing it for all the wrong reasons. It’s no longer about providing bona fide oversight. It’s now about eating.

But there is no way in which you are going to blame July Moyo and the OPC and bypass the head-boy. The president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is the ultimate authority. It doesn’t help matters that he has been quiet about the Pomona deal when his minister and super office are busy doing all sorts of naughty things.

Yes, naughty and worse. This is shown by the fact that council has finally decided to reverse the deal. Why reverse a clean and beneficial deal. The deal is dirty, that’s what. So, in conclusion, the president must take the flak for allowing the deal. It’s not like he was sleeping on duty, no. He was fully aware of it and, therefore, must have taken decisive action when it mattered.

If you go to the constitution, there are things about the president doing and not doing certain things. Clearly, allowing such things like the Pomona deal to proceed and failing to take corrective action runs against the spirit of the constitution. And when a president violates the constitution, he has acted unconstitutionally. When a president acts unconstitutionally, he is game for impeachment.

Then there is this Zanu PF project called MDC-T that is or was run by Douglas Mwonzora. Do you notice how spirited the MDC-T councillors were in supporting the deal? They were part of the council that gave the green-light for the Pomona deal. These are the same councillors who were so much opposed to the CCC councillors being sworn in after the March 26 by-elections. They knew that the CCC councillors and the mayor, Jacob Mafume, were going to fight all the deals that were made when the Nelson Chamisa-aligned councillors were recalled.

SCANDAL: CCC distances self from Pomona Waste Management Limited deal as  HCC hands over Pomona dumpsite
Harare mayor, Jacob Mafume

But no need to waste time on the MDC-T councillors. Their time is as limited as the elections next year. They know this and that, most probably, is the main reason they are grabbing every slight opportunity to eat and dine with their masters in Zanu PF. Talk about making hay as the sun still  shines.

Commonsense tells you that any entity that is involved in a fraudulent deal must also be held accountable. It is an accomplice. Geogenix entered into a fraudulent deal. Therefore, Geogenix must also be investigated and, if possible, brought to book too.

Tawanda Majoni is the national coordinator at Information for Development Trust (IDT) and can be contacted on majonitt@gmail.com

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