Top Covid-19 taskforce official in court over corruption

February 23, 2021

The director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the ministry of Health and Child Care, Portia Manangazira, who is also a key manager in the Covid-19 taskforce, has been arraigned before the courts on four counts of corruption.

Staff Reporter

She is being accused of hiring 28 of her relatives as community health workers.

Manangazira also faces a charge of hiring unqualified staff at the ministry of health to facilitate in the Covid 19 taskforce’s programmes.

On yet another charge of criminal abuse of office, she allegedly flouted tender procedures in the purchase of goods worth US$ 280 529.

She allegedly also diverted diesel coupons for 3 290 litres from the Covid 19 taskforce’s coffers to private vehicles not registered at the Health ministry.

When Managazira appeared before Harare magistrate Bianca Makwande on Monday (21 February 2021), her lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, asked that she be freed on bail.

“The accused took herself to the police and that conduct alone is not consistent with someone who would abscond. She is a high ranking civil servant who earns $110 000 and owns 43 hectares of land where there is farming. She is prepared to pay $15 000 as bail,” said Nkomo.

But prosecutors Lancelot Mutsokoti and Ephraim Zinyandu opposed granting of bail to Manangazira, arguing that she was a flight risk.

“Investigations revealed that she recruited 28 members of her family to train as community health workers. If released on bail, she is likely to interfere with witnesses and investigations since some of them are executives who work with her.

“We have a list of workers from the ministry who were given facilitation fees,” said prosecutor Mutsokoti.

Detective Sergeant Richard Machinya who took to the witness stand to testify as the investigative officer in the case, also urged the court not to grant Manangazira bail, insisting she would flee.

Magistrate Makwande was expected to make a bail ruling on Tuesday 23 February.

Last year former Health minister Obadiah Moyo was arrested for allegedly abusing a US$60 million facility meant to purchase Covid 19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

He was subsequently fired from his cabinet post by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

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