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Zimbabwe health minister charged in coronavirus corruption case

Health minister Obadiah Moyo has now been charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.

Zimbabwe health minister charged in coronavirus corruption case www.africanstand (1)
Zimbabwe has recorded nearly 500 coronavirus cases and just four deaths.

HARARE, Zimbabwe – The Zimbabwean health minister has been charged in a case looking at government contracts awarded during the coronavirus pandemic.

Obadiah Moyo appeared in court on Saturday over allegations he illegally handed a contract for Covid-19 testing kits, drugs, and personal protective equipment to a shadowy company.

He has now been charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.

The former hospital administrator was arrested by the national anti-corruption agency on Friday – the day before his court appearance.

Local journalists exposed how the health minister allegedly chose the company to sell medical supplies to the government at inflated prices that included face masks for 28 dollars (£22) each.

The government canceled the contracts following public outcry. The health minister could be fined or face up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted.

According to the charge sheet, Mr. Moyo “exerted pressure” on his subordinates to award the contracts worth 60 million dollars (£48 million) last year and this year.

One of the Zimbabwean president’s sons was forced to issue a statement denying a link to the company involved after pictures emerged of the Zimbabwean representative of the firm with Emmerson Mnangagwa and his wife and sons at several events.

The representative, Delish Nguwaya, and some top officials of the national drugs procurement agency are already facing criminal charges related to the scandal.

Mr. Nguwaya is accused of lying in saying the company was a drug manufacturing company based in Switzerland, “whereas it was merely a consulting company with no experience in the manufacture of the drug and medical products”, according to the charge sheet.

The scandal comes as health professionals including nurses and doctors in Zimbabwe are on strike demanding to be paid their salaries in US dollars.

They argue that inflation that is now above 750 percent and the erosion of the value of the local currency has rendered incomes worthless.

The health professionals have also complained about the lack of adequate protective gear as the number of coronavirus cases rises.

Zimbabwe has reported around 460 infections to date, according to a Reuters global count. Meanwhile, the official death toll stood at 4 on Saturday.

Hassan Juma

Written by Hassan Juma

Hassan Juma is an international reporter who graduated with a degree from The United States International University where he majored in Journalism and International Relations and he is currently working for African Stand as a senior reporter covering the Middle East, US, Asia, and Europe.

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