Zimbabwe health minister in court on COVID-19 corruption charges

Zimbabwe’s health minister has been released on bail after appearing in court on corruption charges.

Obadiah Moyo was arrested on Friday after the government came under pressure from the opposition and on social media over the procurement of coronavirus tests and equipment.

The charges relate to a $20m (£16m) contract awarded to a Hungary-registered firm, allegedly without going through proper processes. The government has not commented.

Mr Moyo is the second minister in Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cabinet to face corruption charges. He arrived in court in a state-issued luxury car accompanied by aides, the BBC’s Harare correspondent Shingai Nyoka says.

During the hearing, he was charged with several counts of criminal abuse of office and ordered to surrender his passport. He is expected to appear in court again by the end of July.

The deal with two-month-old firm Drax Consult is alleged to have been completed without the legal consent of Zimbabwe’s procurement registration authority.

Zimbabwe is suffering a severe economic crisis – on Wednesday nurses demonstrated over low pay

The opposition has also expressed concern about a $2m payment to Drax Consult. The payment was flagged as suspicious by Hungarian authorities in March.

Last week businessman Delish Nguwaya, who is believed to be Drax’s representative in Zimbabwe, was arrested in connection with the case. The scandal was initially exposed on social media, our correspondent adds.

People started raising questions about how a controversial businessman, who had failed a vetting process months earlier, had managed to set up a new company and secure millions of dollars’ worth of contracts to supply medicines and equipment – some at hugely inflated prices.

The government has since cancelled all contracts with Drax, the state-run Herald newspaper reported.

Zimbabwe says it has confirmed nearly 500 virus cases, including four deaths, but the actual number of cases is thought to be higher.

The country is also facing its worst economic crisis in more than a decade and there is mounting public anger over poor services and corruption.

Source: BBC

Kwame Sektor

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