June 20, 2020

Zim Health Minister faces three counts of criminal abuse of office

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ZTN Correspondent

Zimbabwe’s Health Minister Obadiah Moyo allegedly ordered the purchase of medicines and sundries worth US$15 million outside official tender processes.

He faces three counts of criminal abuse of office.

This emerged during his initial appearance before Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi on Saturday.

Magistrate Mutevedzi remanded him out of custody to July 31, 2020 on ZWL$50 000 bail.

Prosecutors allege international drug supplier, Papi Pharma LLC representative, Delish Nguwaya wrote to Moyo in March 2019; proposing to supply medical consumables worth US$15 million to the Zimbabwe Government.

Moyo, the court heard, subsequently instructed Dr Gerald Gwinji, the Secretary for Health and Child Care then, to award the tender to the company under “a direct purchase deal”.

On March 20, 2019, Dr Gwinji wrote to Treasury requesting due diligence on the company.

Moyo, however, allegedly abused his post of minister to direct Dr Gwinji to engage Papi Pharma LLC.

This was before Treasury had responded to Dr Gwinji’s request for due diligence.

Resultantly, the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) engaged Papi Pharma LLC outside due process.

On June 24, 2019, Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ambassador James Manzou advised that Papi Pharma LLC was linked to a terrorist group known as Gulen Movement and was thus unsuitable.

In August 2019, Nguwaya and Drax Consult SAGL representative Illis Dedja allegedly visited Moyo at his official ministerial offices, and proposed to supply medicines worth US$20 million to the Zimbabwe Government.

Moyo then allegedly instructed Dr Gwinji’s successor at the ministry, Dr Agnes Mahomva, to process the deal.

Dr Mahomva is said to have, however, asked Treasury to first carry out due diligence.

On September 19, 2019, the Office of the President and Cabinet advised Secretary for Finance Mr George Guvamatanga against dealing with Drax Consult SAGL as its business activities could not be ascertained.

On September 26, Moyo allegedly misled Guvamatanga that the Office of the President and Cabinet had, in fact, cleared Drax Consult SAGL.

He allegedly pressured his subordinates to contract the company; leading to Drax Consult SAGL supplying drugs worth US$2 733 980.00 on December 11, 2019.

Treasury paid US$2 million of that amount.

Prosecutors allege the minister favoured the firm, possibly prejudicing Government of US$17.2 million.

In early 2020, Drax Consult SAGL again proposed to supply US$40 million worth of drugs and Moyo ordered Dr Mahomva to award the tender.

Though Drax Consult SAGL had not honoured its initial contract, its second contract saw it supply

Covid-19 test kits worth US$987 720.

Moyo is alleged to have told Mr Guvamatanga to write to the Health Ministry to initiate release of the test kits which were held at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

On the same day, the minister allegedly handed an invoice of US$987 720 to Mr Guvamatanga to ostensibly influence acceptance of the test kits.

He allegedly claimed that there were 15 000 test kits when only 3 700 kits had been delivered.

Based on the invoice, Mr Guvamatanga authorised the kits’ release, subject to a review of prices.

He also insisted that Drax Consult SAGL’s contract remained cancelled.

The State alleges that Moyo showed favour by causing the awarding of a tender despite knowing that Papi Pharma and Drax Consult had failed due diligence.

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