BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
ZIMBABWE’s top health executive Portia Manangazira, who was arrested last month on corruption charges, was yesterday further remanded in custody to March 23.
Manangazira, who is director of epidemiology and disease control in the Health and Child Care ministry, is being accused of criminal abuse of office after she allegedly flouted tender procedures, employed 28 relatives including her father as community health workers, and authorised illegal payments.
The State alleges that sometime in July last year, Manangazira requested funding to recruit and train voluntary community workers to assist in raising awareness on COVID-19.
An allocation of US$796 675 was availed by the Africa Centre for Disease Control through the African Field Epidemiology Network, a non-governmental organisation.
The money was meant to cater for items and services to be used at training workshops for 800 community health workers.
It is also alleged that between July 2020 and last month, she identified 1 000 health community workers to be deployed throughout the country on a COVID-19 awareness campaign, without involving provincial and district medical directors and
The State alleges that the health workers were paid US$600 each for a period of three months and preliminary investigations revealed that 28 of the recruits were related to her.
It is also alleged that between July 16, 2020 and last month, Manangazira acted unlawfully and contrary to or inconsistent with her duties as a public officer and authorised the procurement of goods and services at a cost of US$280 529 without following due processes and favouring selected suppliers.
Manangazira is also accused of sanctioning the payment of facilitation fees totalling US$8 835 to undeserving Health ministry staff.
She also faces another charge of authorising the issuance of coupons for 3 290 litres of fuel to privately-owned vehicles not registered with the ministry.
Meanwhile, former Health minister Obadiah Moyo, who is also accused of criminal abuse of office, has been remanded to April 15 for trial.
The former minister is accused of giving Drax International, a US$60 million contract to supply COVID-19 drugs and materials without going to tender.
In another unrelated matter, former University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura, who is also being charged with criminal abuse of office, was remanded to April 15 for trial.
Nyagura is accused of single-handedly awarding former First Lady Grace Ntombizodwa Marufu-Mugabe a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) without following due process.
Also, former Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira, who is accused of criminal abuse of office, will stand trial on April 15.
Mupfumira is jointly charged with former secretary in her ministry, Ngoni Masoka