Friday, 12 June 2020

TEST KITS SCAM : ZACC QUIZZES NATPHARM BOSSES


Managers at the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) and Government officials were this week quizzed by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) during investigations into procurement, including Covid-19 protection equipment and test kits.

ZACC chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo confirmed yesterday that investigations were still in progress and said no one had been charged yet.

“This week our investigators interviewed a number of officials over alleged irregular procurement of drugs. They were asked questions before going back to their homes. We are still investigating, and after information gathering, we will then make a decision on whether or not there was any criminal conduct. After that, we may have to decide on who should be charged,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.

This comes as Government has ordered NatPharm to cancel all contracts for the supply and delivery of medicines and surgical sundries by Drax Consulting SAGL. 

In a letter on Friday last week to NatPharm managing director Mrs Flora Sifeku, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Gibson Mhlanga ordered the cancellation on Treasury instructions and further ordered that NatPharm must today be ready to present evidence of the cancellation.

“You are being directed to cancel all contracts that you had with Drax SAGL with immediate effect. Please be advised that this process needs to be completed by latest Friday June 12, 2020 and all documentation showing cancellation of the same to be submitted in my office by then. Please treat this issue with the urgency that it requires,” wrote Dr Mhlanga.

Dr Mhlanga confirmed the cancellation of the contracts, adding that he was following instructions from Treasury but declined to go into detail.

Mrs Sifeku confirmed having received the letter, but could not give further comment. 

Represented by Mr Delish Nguwaya in Zimbabwe, Drax SAGL entered into an agreement with Government for the supply and delivery of medicines and consumables worth US$20 million.

The drugs started coming into the country at the beginning of the year in batches.

Later this year, Drax SAGL was awarded an additional tender to provide Covid-19 supplies and was subsequently given preferential treatment for the release of its Covid-19 emergency medical supplies that were stuck at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

There were concerns the company was allegedly overpricing its Covid-19 supplies.

After negotiations between Government and Drax SAGL officials over one bill of nearly US$1 million, an agreement was thrashed that the bill come down to about US$660 000.

Finance and Economic Permanent Secretary Development George Guvamatanga told a Parliamentary portfolio committee dealing with his ministry a few days before the cancellation order that as part of its statutory duties his ministry checked each Government procurement order to see if Zimbabwe was getting value for money before approving payment.

While Treasury did not raise the procurement orders nor did it choose what was ordered or choose suppliers, it did do the final checks over the value being given and would cancel orders that did not seem to give value for money. Herald

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