JUST IN: President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa bows down to pressure

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has succumbed to pressure from anti-corruption activists and cancelled a US$60 million contract fraudulently awarded to Drax International to supply drugs and COVID-19 equipment to NatPharm without going to tender.

The company is represented by Delish Nguwaya linked to Mnangagwa’s son, Collins, although the latter has denied any link to it.

Drax has been paid close to US$1 million for COVID-19 personal protective equipment supplied to NatPharm.

In a letter addressed to NatPharm managing director Flora Nancy Sifeku, Health ministry acting secretary Gibson Mhlanga directed the cancellation of all contracts for the supply and delivery of medicines and surgical sundries by Drax.

“You are being directed to cancel all contracts that you had with Drax SAGL with immediate effect,” Mhlanga said in a letter dated June 5.

“Please, be advised that this process needs to be completed by latest June 12 and all documentation showing cancellation of the same to be submitted to my office by then.”

Mhlanga confirmed the cancellation to NewsDay, but referred all questions to the Finance ministry, saying they were the ones who instructed the cancellation.

“Yes, we cancelled at the instruction of the Finance and Economic Development ministry,” Mhlanga said.

Finance ministry secretary George Guvamatanga, however, refused to respond, referring all questions back to Mhlanga.

“Thank you for your inquiry, but I will refer you to the Health and Child Care ministry, who are the procuring entity through NatPharm and will be in a better position to respond,” Guvamatanga said.

Drax International was awarded the contract under unclear circumstances. The company came under scrutiny after it charged the government inflated prices for N95 masks at US$28 each when locally, they are sold at less than US$5.

The company also inflated prices for test kits, selling them at US$34 each compared to US$15 charged locally.

Nguwaya has been linked to the First Family. Pictures of him in the company of Mnangagwa, his wife, First Lady Auxillia, and sons Collins and Sean went viral soon after the murky deal was exposed. More details of Nguwaya’s close ties with the First Family continue to be exposed.

This has caused an uproar, with observers linking Mnangagwa to the elicit deals, a move than forced the ruling party to issue a stern warning against journalists and citizens linking the Zanu PF boss with corrupt firms.

Drax International was established and registered in 2020 and its main office is said to be in the United Arab Emirates. The company is among 30 suppliers of medical drugs and consumables approved by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.

NatPharm has been accused of conniving with some politicians to loot donated drugs and former Health minister David Parirenyatwa once revealed in court that donated drugs were being stolen from the government warehouse and sold to private pharmacies.

Parirenyatwa told the court that he had to remove Sifeku as NatPharm managing director after allegations of diverting donated drugs surfaced.

However, the former minister ended up being arrested for removing Sifeku from NatPharm.

In March last year, police recovered drugs worth US$500 000 in Waterfalls, Harare, stolen from NatPharm by rings that include some Health ministry officials.

Three suspects, Clever Farayi, Tatenda Innocent Rutsate and Graeme Munikwa were arrested, but they implicated some senior government officials as the ring leaders in the looting.

The senior government officials were, however, not mentioned in police reports, while a pledge by the law enforcement agency to arrest those implicated also suffered a stillbirth.

— NewsDay


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