BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
TWO NatPharm bosses who were arrested for illegally awarding a tender to Drax International for the supply COVID-19, were yesterday removed from remand, marking the collapse of the case.
The pair, former NatPharm managing director Nancy Flora Sifeku and former finance manager Rolland Mlalazi, were removed from remand by Harare magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guvuriro.
She said the State had failed to provide the accused persons with a trial date within a reasonable time.
The pair was being accused of allegedly failing to follow procurement procedures, which resulted in Drax International LLC being awarded a tender to supply and deliver medicines and surgical sundries to government.
It was alleged that in December 2019, Sikefu and Mlalazi disregarded a directive from then Health ministry secretary Agnes Mahomva ordering NatPharm to follow tender procedures for the procurement of medicines and surgical sundries.
The duo allegedly awarded a contract to purchase medicines and surgical sundries under a US$20 million facility to Drax Consult SAGL after they indicated that the purchase was an emergency.
They also allegedly offered Drax Consult SAGL another tender worth US$13 351 071 to supply medicines.
Drax International LLC was fronted by Delish Nguwaya and ILir Dedja. It later changed its name to Drax Consult SAGL after it failed to meet vetting requirements.
The Drax scandal, dubbed COVID-gate, which surfaced in June last year and is estimated to have involved over US$60 million, led to the expulsion of Obadiah Moyo as Health minister before he was recently acquitted by the High Court.
Moyo was acquitted by High Court judge Justice Pisirayi Kwenda, who threw out the charges saying they were imprecise and did not disclose a criminal offence.
Drax was being accused of supplying COVID-19 medical essentials to government at inflated prices.