HCC, govt head for showdown 

Source: HCC, govt head for showdown – NewsDay Zimbabwe

Local Government minister July Moyo

LOCAL Government minister July Moyo says he is prepared for a bruising legal battle with Harare mayor Jacob Mafume over disbursement of devolution funds.

Mafume has threatened to drag government to court after he alleged that Harare was allocated only 15% ($100 million) of the $2,3 billion devolution funds that it was supposed to get, which has stalled development in the capital.

But Moyo yesterday said: “I want to urge mayor Mafume not to abuse the justice system and I believe he is just ignorant of some issues. He is free to approach the courts if he feels something is being violated. The  Finance ministry is responsible for those funds and it’s in the Blue Book. We are ready for the court battle and we are ready to meet him in court.”

Mafume feels government has been acting unfairly by denying the city devolution funds, and yet it wants Harare City Council (HCC) to pay Geogenix B V for the Pomona waste-to-energy project using devolution funds.

The Pomona waste project bill has accumulated to almost US$2 million. The controversial project compels HCC to pay a daily US$22 000 bill whether it dumps waste or not. The figure will double after 12 months.

Moyo’s remarks come as Local Government ministry secretary Zvinechimwe Churu claimed that HCC does not have powers to cancel the Pomona waste contract.

Churu was responding to Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) which had filed an urgent High Court application seeking an order barring Moyo from using devolution funds to pay Geogenix BV.

“The applicant is mis-informed. The contract which is being referred to does not have a provision for suspension. The contract is very clear as to the procedure when one party is aggrieved.”

He said the contract in clause 2.6 provided for a liaison committee to be set up to solve disputes.

“The 2nd respondent was acting in bad faith to pass a resolution of suspending the contract. The failure to pay the invoices constitutes a breach of contract which has its own consequences and will prejudice the residents which the applicant is purporting to represent,” Churu said.

He also argued that Local Government ministry has administrative powers to interfere with the operations of councils in terms of section 314 of the Urban Councils Act.

Churu said central government could not watch local authorities making bad decisions, adding that residents should  not frustrate implementation of a national project