LEGISLATORS have slammed local government minister July Moyo for acting strangely as a debt collector on behalf of Dutch company Geogenix BV in the controversial US$400m energy recovery deal Pomona waste.
Moyo wrote a number of letters forcing the City of Harare to suspend its resolution to stop the deal and pushing the local authority to pay the money it supposedly owes Geogenix BV.
Raising the issue during this week’s National Assembly question and answer session, Norton MP Temba Mliswa lambasted Moyo, accusing him of evading his ministerial obligation to appear before parliament to answer questions. legislators while focusing on debt collection on behalf of a private company.
“The Honorable July Moyo is not here to answer but he is busy writing letters to local authorities for money to come out. His job now is to write letters asking for money. How can a minister be a debt collector? He’s not there to answer questions about every transaction he does.”
“Where is he? He is seen writing letters left, right and center asking for 10% commission. He has been paid. Ndozvinonetsa kana wadya mari dzevanhu. Haurari usiku nekuti unenge uchingonyora matsamba uchirotomoka (This is the problem with compromised ministers, they cannot sleep peacefully at night) He has to come and explain why he writes letters when he is not a debt collector,” Mliswa said.
MP for Pumula, Sicelesile Mahlangu, questioned Moyo’s deputy, Marian Chombo, on whether it is a minister’s duty to act as a debt collector on behalf of a private enterprise.
“My question is for the Minister of Local Government. The Minister has written a letter to the City of Harare to pay the so called unpaid amount to the Pomona Company. Is it the duty of the Minister to act as collector of debts in the name of private enterprise?” she asked.
In her response, Deputy Minister Chombo said: “Certainly, the Ministry of Local Government is not a collection agent. We are the line ministry and local authorities come under the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works. complaint or request through the Ministry, it is our duty to contact the relevant local authority to try to respond to the complaint or request. If the local authority has entered into a contractual agreement with a supplier, it should certainly honor it.
Kambuzuma lawmaker Willius Madzimure immediately expressed concern about Chombo’s response, saying, “Is the minister trying to tell this House that all of a sudden the ministry now has a responsibility to act at the name of a private company that has its own lawyers and an administration that takes care of its own problems? Does the minister want us to believe that it is the ministry that is under contract with the city of Harare? Where in the Zimbabwe Acts do we have a law that allows a minister to follow an appropriation?
But Deputy Minister Chombo said it was her ministry’s duty to ensure that any complaints filed against a competent authority were dealt with.
Responding to Chombo’s response, MP Norton Mliswa lamented that the Department of Local Government was not following due process.
“My follow-up question is that the minister cannot just receive complaints from stakeholders. There is a process, there is a procedure. Even the president himself with the powers conferred on him, if he there’s a complaint of theft it’s wrong It’s using the institutions that are there to do the job You can’t say you’re in central government and you’re making the decision to override There are processes and procedures…”
“These people have their lawyers too, why aren’t their lawyers doing the job?” asked Mliswa.
Harare North lawmaker Allan Markham agreed with Mliswa, accusing the Department of Local Government of misleading parliament.
“We are being misled by the Honorable Deputy Minister. Last time the issue of debt collection was raised with the City of Harare to collect debts, she told us not to collect debts, but her ministry will now collect debts for a private company,’ Markham said.