By Guest Columnist| If it is, indeed, true that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has woken up to its folly of meddling in local authorities affairs as far as the problematic Pomona Waste to Energy deal between Harare City Council and the Netherlands-based Geogenix BV is concerned, then the timely realisation is most welcome. It was about time sanity dawned on central government.
While the modalities of the discussions between government and council over this highly-questionable deal that borders on jaw-dropping and record-breaking swindle are sketchy at the moment, we, however understand that government has decided not to keep piling pressure on the local authority to pay Geogenix BV for dumping waste at Pomona.
Government, through the Local Government ministry has been frothing and demanding that council pay Geogenix BV a staggering US$1,5 million bill accrued by the council over the past two months; and it is truly refreshing that government has decided to hold back a little on this issue which was exhibiting government foolishness of the highest order.
And we must salute the council lawyers Scanlen and Holdersness for highlighting to government its folly of usurping the council’s right to govern its own affairs in line with the Urban Councils Act.
“The right conferred on the City of Harare as aforesaid has further complimented Chapter 14 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides for the concept of devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities to metropolitan councils and local authorities which are competent to carry out those responsibilities efficiently and effectively.
“In so far as the resolution to suspend the Pomona Waste to Energy Project is concerned, it is our client’s position that it is scandalous for the ministry to be on the fore-front of protecting an agreement which binds the City of Harare to hand over the Pomona Dump Site to Geogenix for nothing for a period of 30 years and yet the City of Harare is expected to pay US$40 000 per day to dump waste it would have collected at its own cost and delivered to its own dumpsite,” so wrote the lawyers to Local Government Minister July Moyo.
We, therefore, sincerely hope and pray that government stops its needless snooping into local authorities’ affairs which has the potential of disrupting many councils’ operations as some, such as Harare and Bulawayo, have already highlighted.
We also genuinely hope that the other issue of fire tenders is sensibly concluded. Pertinent questions have been raised over why government should source for fire tenders on behalf of local authorities as if the councils were incapable of doing it on their own. And most ludicrous of this untoward overbearing behaviour by government is that the fire tenders from Belarus are priced at an eye-popping US$464 296 each, yet similar vehicles cost 15 times less elsewhere in countries such as China.
There are many examples, known and unknown, whereby government is overbearingly overstepping its mandate in local authorities which we believe is retrogressive and works against the spirit of devolution. The less government involves itself in the affairs of councils the better it would be for everyone.