Updated: Health Minister appears in court, granted $50k bail
Harare(New Ziana)- Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo appeared in court on Saturday, facing three counts of criminal abuse of office relating to procurement of drugs and health consumables.
He was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) on Friday, and spent the night in police custody.
Moyo, who becomes the second cabinet minister to be arrested for alleged graft, appeared before Harare magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi, and granted $50 000 bail.
It is the State’s case that sometime in March 2019, Minister Moyo was approached by Delish Nguwaya, a local representative of Papi Pharma – a drug and medical consumables supplier – offering to supply drugs and medical sundries under a US$15 million loan facility.
Under normal circumstances, the office of the secretary for Health and Child Care is supposed to bring up such matters to the Minister.
But Moyo, using his higher position, allegedly verbally directed the then secretary for Health and Child Care, Dr Gerald Gwinji and told him to process paperwork and award a tender to Papi Pharma under a direct purchase.
On March 20, 2019, Dr Gwinji wrote to treasury requesting that due diligence be done on the company before it is contracted for business by government.
By allegedly causing the award of the tender, Moyo is accused of favouring Papi Pharma, a deal which could have potentially prejudiced the Ministry of Health and Child Care US$15 million.
On 24 June 2019, an adverse report was received from James Manzou, secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade indicating that the company, Papi Pharma, was linked to a terrorist group known as Gulen Movement.
Minister Moyo allegedly phoned Ministry of Health secretary, Dr Agnes Mahomva and handed over the letter of interest for her to process. The former secretary then wrote to treasury requesting a due diligence to be done on Drax.
On September 19, 2019, treasury secretary George Guvamatanga received a report from the Office of the President to the effect that business activity of Drax could not be ascertained therefore dealing with the company had been flagged.
On September 26th, Moyo phoned Guvamatanga indicating that Drax had been cleared when in actual fact the company’s activity could not be ascertained.
Minister Moyo allegedly put pressure on his subordinates to award Drax a contract for supply of medicines through NatPharm and on 11 December 2019, Drax supplied drugs worth US$2 733 980.00 of which US$2 million was paid by treasury.
On count two, it is alleged that in August 2019, Nguwaya whom Moyo had dealt with representing Papi Pharma visited Moyo’s office in the company of Illis Dedja, a representative of Drax Consult SAGL. They again expressed interest in supplying medicines worth US$20 million under Drax.
According to the state, Moyo allegedly favoured Drax causing potential prejudice of US$17.2 million.
Early this year, Drax again expressed interest to supply US$40 million worth of Covid-19 drugs and consumables, and Minister Moyo allegedly directed Mahomva to award the tender knowing full well that the company had not fulfilled previous contracts.
Under that tender, Drax got a contract to supply US$987 720 Covid-19 test kits.
The accused then phoned the secretary for treasury instructing him to write a letter to the Ministry of Health to initiate release of Covid-19 test kits which were held at the Robert Mugabe Airport.
On the same day, Moyo allegedly handed over an invoice of US$987 720 to Guvamatanga in order to influence the acceptance of Covid-19 test kits under Drax whose contract had been cancelled.
He allegedly claimed that there were 15 000 test kits when in actual effect there were 3 700 Covid-19 test kits.
Basing on the invoice, Guvamatanga wrote a letter authorising release of test kits subject to review of prices and reiterated that the company’s contract remained cancelled.
It is the state’s case that Minister Moyo allegedly showed favour by causing the award of tender for Covid-19 test kits to Drax well knowing that its sister companies Papi Pharma and Drax Consult had failed due diligence processes.
Moyo joins former Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Minister Prisca Mupfumira in being arrested for alleged graft.
She faces charges of corruption involving over US$90 million connected to the National Social Security Authority.
Mupfumira is out on bail. And Moyo was also remanded out custody to July 31, 2020.