Harare mayor Jacob Mafume says the local authority has no money to pay a US$1 million debt to Geogenix BV, a Netherlands-based company, under the controversial US$400 million Pomona waste-to-energy deal.
Mafume said that the money the City of Harare is expected to pay Geogenix BV over a 30-year period would be enough to fund the construction of a new capital city in the next few years.
Last week Local Government and Public Workers minister July Moyo wrote a letter to Harare City Council ordering the local authority to pay over US$1 million it now owes Geogenix BV for May.
However, Mafume said the letter will be read out in the next full council meeting to hear the views of councillors on the matter. He said:
We will take it to the full council. That amount of money in 30 years can build a new city.
We have received two letters from the minister. He is not a party to the contract nor is the ministry so therefore we believe the contractor (Geogenix BV) knows what to do if they want to enforce their rights.
We have made a decision as council which is in the best interest of the residents.
We will read the letter to full council and see whether the council and the councillors agree with the interpretations by the minister, but it does not make sense for a landlord to pay rentals for his own property.
How the minister sees sense in that is beyond the residents and the council. If they are aggrieved by our decision, the contractor knows the forums to go to.
Mafume insisted that Harare does not have the capacity to pay US$1 million every month for the next 30 years for garbage dumped at Pomona dumpsite. He said:
We simply cannot afford to pay US$1 million per month for 30 years. That is not possible, council does not have the amount of money.