By Correspondent

The rejection of Harare’s budget has been revealed to be Government’s way to armtwist Harare into accepting the GeoPomona deal.

Harare Council refused to approve the US$320 million deal arguing that it’s not sustainable financially.

However, Government has been adamant in pushing ahead with the shady deal which Delish Nguwaya in partnership with fugitive Albanian Mèril Mërtiri won without an open tender.

Budget Rejected

Government’s rejection of the budget cites issues to do with absence of a Enterprise Resource Planning system among other reasons.

Local Government Minister Winstone Chitando said the budget should also sync with President Mnangagwa’s new blueprint on service delivery.

“The 2024 budget, which we are all aware of, was not approved and that was not just for the City of Harare.

“There are other two local authorities — Gokwe and Hwange — whose budgets were not approved.”

“There was a blueprint, which was launched by His Excellency, the President, on November 1.

“It outlines issues which are being taken into consideration when approving all 92 local authorities’ budget proposals.

“All local authorities were expected to draft their 2024 budgets in alignment with the blueprint on service delivery,” he said.

Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume was magnanimous accepting the rejection and way forward.

“The discussions were forthright and we found areas of conjunction.

“We will make sure that our staff deliver a budget to the residents and to the ministry that can take the city forward.

“(This is) in line with the development trajectory that was articulated by the Government.”

Pushing the Shady Ahead

However, other people are not convinced Central Government has suddenly realised the importance of service delivery.

Harare Residents Trust Director Precious Shumba said the meeting with Chitando had nothing to do with the budget.

“The Ministry of Local Government rejected the Harare 2024 budget on several ground some of which we agreed to like the absence of a biling system.

“But from our observations as Harare Residents it is clear that the meeting held by the Minister here had nothing to do with the 2024 budget.

“It is meant to exert excessive pressure on the Local Authority to accede to the demand for an addendum to the agreement between the City of Harare and GeoPomona Waste Management company.

The opposition-led Harare Council has blocked the infamous GeoPomona deal arguing that its exorbitant.

Last week former Deputy Mayor Kudzai Kadzombe reiterated their position against the deal.

With rumours that GeoPomona is actually President Mnangagwa’s entity pressure is on Harare to accept the deal.

However, Shumba says the deal doesn’t make sense before some preliminary issues are addresses.

“We object to that arrangement because we believe that GeoPomona has not invested a cent into the upgrade and maintenance of Pomona dumpsite.

“So the meeting here is meant to push pressure on the City of Harare.

“Our demand from the beginning and the major shortcoming of the City of Harare, is that they cannot enter into an agreement with Geogenix BV without addressing the issue of refuse collection from the domestic consumers, industries and Central Business District.

Gvt’s Legitimate Reasons

Central Government is however adamant on the legitimacy of its cited reasons.

It says Harare has continuously failed to procure an ERP system for the past five years.

This has contributed to low revenue collection and consequently poor service delivery.

Thus the city’s budget proposal was, therefore, an inaccurate reflection of the council’s revenue generation capacity.

Minister Chitando has since directed the council to resubmit its budget before the end of this month.

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