Geogenix country rep Mr Delish Nguwaya with Collins Mnangagwa in a file picture
By Wisdom Mumera
Local Government Minister July Moyo has hogged the limelight through a scandalous US$344 million waste to energy project with an Albanian entity whose terms of reference have shocked many.
The company is supposed to get paid US$40 per tonne of garbage delivered to Pomona.
The stipulated delivery is at least 550 tonnes or a minimum of 200 750 tonnes per year translating to US$8,03 million for Geogenix in the first year.
By the second year the daily tonnage will rise to 650; going up to 750 in the third year; 850 the third year and 1000 tonnes in the fifth year.
Breakdown of Total Primary Energy Supply of Africa, 2013 Source: IEA (2015)
Investigations have however revealed that the scheme has been copied elsewhere.
The same company has been enmeshed in almost similar scandals in Albania where some government officials are already under investigation with some already arrested.
The Balkan Connection
For more than two decades, urban waste in Durres, the second largest city in Albania, was being deposited at an open field near a place called Porto-Romano.
The Durres City Council was pressured by the most powerful person in the country, Prime Minister Edi Rama, to reach an agreement with the private owners of the Tirana Landfill at Sharra.
The Tirana landfill is owned by Geogenix BV.
However, the high cost of depositing waste at Tirana plus council’s inability to raise the requisite funds to pay for this solution stalled proceedings.
The pressure worked and the council was made to dump at the private facility whose costs are exorbitant.
According to Zef Preci, Director of the Albania Centre for Economic Research, “the contracts clearly smell of favouritism, clientilism and corruption.”
It’s a similar modus operandi to the one which recently played out in Harare.
Minister July Moyo simply pressured the Harare councilors to accept and sign a scandalous agreement with the Albanian Geogenix BV, known in Albania as Integrated Energy BV.
Moyo, through Cabinet, engineered for the project to get a National Project Status which allowed most of the processes and procedures to be skipped.
Due to this Geogenix will enjoy exemptions on imported capital goods.
Mirroring what was said by Zef Preci, Harare legislator Rusty Markham said the agreement was flawed.
“It has not been subjected to any oversight by Parliament. My analysis is that it’s also designed to fail, at which point Geogenix BV will walk away with a hefty payout (US$3,5 million).
There is another comparison again which shows that whatever is happening in Zimbabwe is a clearly thought-out grand plan to steal as much as possible employing already proved methods from elsewhere.
Layers of Similarity
According to the Balkan Insight, on September 26, 2016, a mere warehouseman at state-owned Albania Railways called Arber Denizi opened his own business for the import and export of food and transportation of goods including construction materials. He called it Pivot-04.
Denizi’s pay at the state rail company was roughly 220 euros per month.
In the first four months of its existence, Pivot-04 invoiced two related companies – Albtek Energy and Integrated Technology Services, ITS – for 160 million leks, or roughly 1.33 million euros.
According to the prosecution request the two companies are part of seven others which sent invoices totaling 460 million leks, roughly 3.7 million euros, to companies involved in waste incinerator concessions.
Prosecutors say they can prove that the seven companies performed no real activity and that their “employees” have denied ever actually doing any work for them.
The same structure of corruption has been employed at Pomona where literally nothing has been done on the ground yet the company has submitted an invoice for payments to Harare council.
A tour organized for journalists in June showed that Pomona is still as it was. Geogenix has done nothing at the site!
It’s the Albanian equivalent of the waste companies’ supposed employees admitting that they had not done any work.
The front man for Geogenix in Zimbabwe, Delish Nguwaya, like Arber Denizi, has been a ‘sudden businessman’ who has no proven track record and only has links to powerful politicians and is used as a front.
Nguwaya has been rumored to be the front for President Mnangagwa’s two sons, Collins and Sean, while other versions actually state that he represents Mnangagwa himself.
Arrests Vs Protection
Unlike in Zimbabwe were the shady deal has remained protected despite public protestations, in Albania six officials and an administrator at a waste treatment plant in the city of Fieri have since been arrested.
The country’s anti-corruption prosecutors said they are also seeking to arrest Alqi Bllako, a former state official who is currently a member of the Parliament for the governing Socialist Party and is central to the corrupt plots.
Above, Alqi Bllako, former Albanian state official
“Bllako is accused of indirectly receiving a bribe of 15 million leks (over 120,000 euros) in the form of a salary paid to his father by the company that received the contract to build incinerators at the waste treatment plant.
“Prosecutors have seized an apartment worth 144,000 euros belonging to his family,” according to the Balkan Insight.
According to prosecutors Bllako received the payments indirectly from Integrated Technology Waste Treatment Fier, while he was general secretary at the Ministry of Environment and again when he was general director of the National Agency of Water, Sewage and Waste Infrastructure.
The former Environment Minister Lefter Koka, a close ally of Prime Minister Rama, was also arrested last December for allegedly receiving several million euros in bribes through a network of fake companies.
Investigations into the third and largest plant in the capital Tirana are also still ongoing.
However, back in Zimbabwe central government is still adamant that everything was done above board and Harare council should pay the private firm.