Zimbabwean authorities have been frenetic seeking to come up with waste to energy projects but curiously they all die out.
Zimbabwe produces 1.7 million tons of solid waste annually, according to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
It thus needs to come up with a plan to deal with that waste.
However, in a curious trend, most of these projects are always enmeshed in controversy or die out naturally.
In April 2021, Zimbabwean authorities approved a waste-to-energy project in the city of Bulawayo.
Pragma Leaf Project
The project by UK-based Pragma Leaf Consulting was meant to process 325 tons of waste per day.
It would generate 78,000 to 110,000 liters of diesel per day, 60 m3 of biogas and 11.35 MW of electricity.
In an effort to speed it up the project was given National Project Status (NPS).
The granting of NPS was expected to speed up implementation at a time the country is contending with power shortages.
However, the project never took off as Bulawayo finally tired of waiting.
The contractor had allegedly been dithering for over 3 years.
According to BCC, Pragma Leaf lacked zeal to push through the project.
Instead of running within the contract specified 120 days the UK based company spent nearly 3 years with nothing on the ground.
Curiously Pragma Leaf is composed of Zimbabweans in the diaspora led by Grasiano Takawira.
Takawira worked for Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd and Founders Building Society and various management positions before leaving the country.
As has become synonymous with such deals BCC is now at loggerheads with PLC.
PLC contends against the cancellation and has been justifying its lengthy delays.
According to the firm “the agreement was signed in December 2018 and mobilisation started in 2019 and Covid-19 stalled all activities for nearly two years.
“Nonetheless we have started implementing phase 1 of the project.”
Curiously, it’s an eerily similar scenario with the infamous Geo-Pomona Waste Management deal in Harare.
Government has approved a build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme to build a 22MW power plant at the Pomona landfill site, in collaboration with a Dutch developer, Geogenix BV.
However, away from the numbers the deal has been a bloody field.
Harare City Council has been against the deal citing exorbitant and even strange arrangement where it has to pay to give the private firm refuse.
The US$340 million deal, heavily and financially biased towards Geogenix BV, has been a platform for fights.
It has taken the muscle and forthright brazen politics of President Mnangagwa’s ZANU government to push ahead with the deal.
However, as late as this month’s commissioning of the project dissonant messages were all over the project.
While Mnangagwa was lauding the project, Harare Mayor Ian Makone, speaking at the same event, was citing misgiving raised by the previous Council led by former Mayor Jacob Mafume.
It’s thus safe to say that the Geo-Pomona deal is set to face huge challenges that will stifle its realisation.
If one were to add the shady aspect of the Geogenix BV characters as led by their Zimbabwean front, Delish Nguwaya, then the project becomes an even longer pipe dream.
Kwekwe Pipe Dream
In Kwekwe another waste to energy project, from over 3 years ago, rose and died in state media.
The plant was set to be located on a 50-hectare site near the municipality’s wastewater treatment plant in Dutchman’s Pools.
Lucia Mkandla, Kwekwe’s Municipal Secretary, said the project would provide electricity from waste to the people of the township in the long term.
That never happened and the project is now history.
Thus, while waste collection and recovery have become a priority for the government there is still no order to the whole enterprise to solve the problem.
There are a variety of reasons for the continued failure of such huge projects
Foremost, the hand of corruption remains heavy and indecorous to allow for a swift alleviation of the situation.
The Geo-Pomona deal was allegedly engineered by former Local Government Minister July Moyo and is actually the baby of senior government officials.
Even Nguwaya himself, is whispered to be a mere front again.
Thus while residents are struggling with mountains of refuse which council cannot collect, authorities are seeing potential money making ventures.