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Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa (third from left), Home Affairs Deputy Minister Mike Madiro (second from left) and Geo Pomona Waste Management (GPWM) country director Mr Delish Nguwaya being taken through the artistic impressions of the master plan for the development of Pomona Waste Management facility Pic credit: Kudakwashe Hunda , Herald

Stalemate: Minister orders City Council to strike off Pomona resolution

• Council responds: “no going back, deal is bad for residents.”

HARARE – Local Government minister July Moyo has ordered Harare City Council to cancel a resolution made by the local authority in its attempt to thwart the controversial Pomona Waste Energy contract awarded to GeoGenix B.V.

Moyo has vowed to railroad the agreement insisting it is cast in stone by Cabinet approval and cannot be torpedoed by a local authority, on Thursday took exception with a council resolution that instructed the Town Clerk the affidavits filed by Harare City Council with the High Court opposing the court case by the residents opposing the Pomona Waste Energy Project.

“In my view the above resolution unnecessarily interferes with the matter which is already subjudice,” Moyo said in his order to the council.

“The resolution is also, in my view, premature to the extent that the investigation to be carried is not yet complete. There is also no suggestion in the resolution that in making and filing affidavit with the court the acting Town Clerk was either not authorised or competent to make it….In my view, therefore the resolution in question was made with a view to subverting the process of the court and is therefore in very bad faith and cannot be allowed.

“Council can always approach the court directly itself to explain why it wishes to alter or withdraw the defence. I accordingly direct in term of section 314 (1) of the Urban Council Act (Chapter29:15) that council immediately rescinds the resolution cited above which seeks to oppose the opposing affidavit filed by council in the pending court proceedings.

“The resolution is in my view in bad faith and meant to subvert the process of the court and is therefore not in the public interest,” Moyo concluded.

In turn, Harare City Council Mayor Jacob Mafume maintained that the agreement is between council and the investor and council has the authority to exercise its own discretion.

Mafume said the local authority will forge ahead after a full council special meeting held in early June begun steps to cancel the deal by adopting three motions, the third one being the one under fire from the minister.

The first resolution was made to appoint a special committee to investigate the entire waste-to-energy contract.

The councillors also adopted a second motion to suspend the contract between Geogenix and City of Harare pending the findings of the committee.

Thirdly, the councillors upheld a motion to withdraw opposition to the court application made by Member of Parliament Allan Markham and residents challenging the Pomona deal, which Moyo has instructed that it be struck off.

“The Town Clerk receives authority from the Council on legal positions. And in this case, the council is simply communicating its decision or its position that needs to be communicated by the Town Clerk to the courts,” Mafume told Zim Morning Post.

“We cannot have a situation where how the Town Clerk responds is directed by an external body. The council has made a resolution on how it’s going to handle the court case. And that resolution is an administrative matter.

Mafume added that the section that Moyo uses is in variance with the principle of public interest.

“How can it be in the public interest for the Town Clerk to give a position that is different from his own Council? How can it be in the public interest to force council to pay US$20,000 per day even footballers in Europe do not get such amounts per day? How can it be in the public interest for the Town Clerk to support a position that says the Council must pay US$700,000 to throw away its own rubbish? It is not clear which public is being protected here by this directive,” Mafume said.

“We will present it before Council and we will communicate back to the ministry accordingly. As far as we are concerned how we respond to legal issues is a purely administrative matter. And cannot be under the purview of the section that the minister has purported to use.”

Moyo has previously vowed that the agreement would sail through as it has Cabinet approval, and “was closely analysed by Government lawyers, including the Attorney General’s office before it was signed.”

The waste management project, amongst other benefits, will create employment, generate power and assist in refuse management, Moyo said.