An unprecedented scandal, wastegate, is unfolding in Harare after a dubious company, GeoGenix B.V, signed a controversial contract which will see City of Harare losing close to US$300 million of rate payers’ money at its Pomona dump site.
Geo Pomona Waste Management Private Limited which commenced clearing the ground at the Pomona dumpsite will run the waste management site for 30 years while charging Harare City council US$40 000 per day.
The company is building a waste management facility and waste-to-energy plant that will see it generate between 16-22 MW plant at Pomona in Harare.
The dubious contract was signed by Acting Harare Town Clerk Engineer Phakamile Moyo without consulting the Mayor and other city fathers while the sole representative of the Netherlands based company in Zimbabwe is Delish Nguwaya of the Draxgate firm.
Building an empire on waste
While the waste-to-energy plant is a welcome project, it is the US$300 million cost that has turned the whole project into a scandal of monumental heights.
Investigations by the Zim Morning Post revealed that GeoGenix B.V, formerly known as Integrated Energy B.V is linked to Mirel Mertiri.
Mertiri is a controversial recipient of dozens of state contracts in Albania because of his proximity to the political leaders.
Over the last decade Mertiri has clinched controversial deals– including controversial concessionary agreements with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s government between 2014 and 2017 for the construction of three waste incinerators – worth hundreds of millions of euros.
Media reports show that Mertiri stands behind a business empire encompassing a broad network of companies registered in Albania and in offshore jurisdictions under the names of close associates.
The incinerator concessions are the most controversial of a string of so-called ‘public-private partnerships’ undertaken by Rama’s government and, according to estimates of Albania’s Supreme State Audit, could cost Albanian taxpayers more than 350 million euros over the next 30 years.
The Albanian deal led to massive street protests in Verri, a suburb near the waste incinerator outside the Balkan nation’s capital Tirana in January 2018.
The protesters were brutally assaulted by police. Protesters wanted the deal to be cancelled, arguing that the company was being paid huge amounts of money despite doing a shoddy job, according to the Albanian Daily News.
In December 2018, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama sacked half his cabinet (14 ministers) in response to the massive protests. They included the country’s former finance minister Arben Ahmetaj, who was identified by the press as having influenced the deal because of his closeness to Mertiri.
Mertiri is also closely linked to Ilir Dedjar, the owner of Drax Consult Sagl which was accused of syphoning billions of dollars in Zimbabwe in what became to be known as Covidgate.
Mertiri and Dedjar are co-directors in a company called 3DDD Swiss Trading and have collaborated in a number of dubious contracts.
At the height of Covidgate Mertiri and Dedjar paid a visit to Zimbabwe and were taken to State House to meet President Emmerson Mnangagwa by the then Health minister Obadiah Moyo. Drax representative in Zimbabwe Delish Nguwaya also accompanied the two controversial businessmen. Fast forward to 2022 Nguwaya is, again, the sole representative of GeoGenix B.V in Zimbabwe.
In Harare GeoGeneix has been handed a lucrative deal where Harare rate payers will have to fork out US$40 000 per day for the minimum 1000 tonnes of garbage per day.
This contract runs for 30 years meaning the company will rake in over US$300 million while at the same time realising profits from the power which will be generated and fed into the national grid.
The contract, seen by Zim Mornings Post shows that the Pomona dump site “shall be handed over to the Contractor, as specified in Schedule 15 (Handover of the Sites) free of charge and against no payment of any fees, tariffs, or taxes whatsoever, on the Site Handover Date, which shall occur not later than the Commencement Date.”
“It is a bad contract and we are against it. It was signed before we came in and we are challenging it,” Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume told Zim Morning Post.
“Harare needs close to US$3 million to purify water and we cannot be seen channelling resources to the dubious contract instead of prioritising important issues,” he said.
“How can the Landlord (Harare City council) pay the tenant (GeoGenix), it is absurd.
“The company should, instead pay rentals for its factory or still buy the refuse from us,” Mafume fumed.
Harare City Council has been struggling in carrying out its operations like garbage collection as well as provision of clean water for city dwellers.
Investigations have also revealed that the city has a backlog of salaries for its employees as it is failing to raise enough revenue to sustain its operations.
“We do not have such amount of money to pay GeoGenix,” Mafume said adding: “Everyone suspects that government will raid devolution funds to pay for this plant.”
“The project makes environmental sense but why should City council bear the cost? We are providing them with enough raw material (Garbage) and even free space to construct the plant. Why should we pay for the garbage?” he said.