ZACC probes Health deputy minister

November 19, 2020

Brenna Matendere

It seems the Zimbabwean Health ministry just won’t steer clear of controversy.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) is now investigating John Mangwiro, the deputy minister, for alleged abuse of office.

John Makamure, the ZACC spokesperson, confirmed the Mangwiro probe.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa fired the then Health minister, Obadiah Moyo, in July after his arrest the previous month for alleged involvement in a US$60 million Covid-19 procurement scandal.

Moyo’s case is at the courts.

All heads of public hospitals were also removed from their posts and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, the ex-general who led the late Robert Mugabe’s forced removal from office as president in late 2017, stepped in as the new minister, but legal critics said the move was unconstitutional.

Just before Moyo’s arrest, Agnes Mahomva who had been appointed the permanent secretary for the Health ministry in 2019 but redeployed to head the Covid-19 national taskforce, was moved to the Office of the President and Cabinet under unclear circumstances.

Speculation pointed to the possibility that Mahomva had repeatedly resisted elite corruption relating to Covid-19 procurement and might have fallen out of favour with Moyo, then considered a protégé of the president.

And, now, ZACC is sniffing at Mangwiro for reportedly abusing his office by favouring a company to which he has yet unspecified ties.

The anti-graft body suspects that Mangwiro tried to influence the publicly-owned medical supplies company- Natpharm, to award a tender to Young Health Care, a company to which he is allegedly linked, without following proper procedure.

Last month, a leaked ZACC internal memo alleged that the deputy minister exerted improper influence on Natpharm to award Young Health Care a multi-million dollar tender to supply laboratory equipment, reagents and consumables for Covid-19.

Young Health Care reportedly inflated prices of goods, just as has become the norm in public procurement.

“Initial quotation by Young Health Care for supply of commodities under direct procurement, where prices quoted by Young Heath Care Limited were exorbitant amounted to USD$5 600 000, which was coincidentally the same amount that was in the Ministry coffers, suggesting that the company had inside information (sic),” read part of the memo.

The tender adjudication team, which looked at 22 other bidders, had given the contract to yet another suitor that quoted lower prices.

But, according to the ZACC confidential document, Mangwiro reportedly summoned managers from Natpharm at night after the adjudication process.

 “The adjudication team was picked from their homes around 2200 hours and were interrogated by the Deputy Minister until the early hours of the following day. The Deputy Minister threatened the team with dismissal for failing to award Young Health Care the contracts,” said the report.

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