Home LOCAL NEWS Drax Saga Rages On – 4 NatPharm board members arrested

Drax Saga Rages On – 4 NatPharm board members arrested

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Zacc commissioner John Makamure

Four National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) board members were yesterday arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) on allegations of abuse of office.

The arrested board members are: Dr Billy Rugava, Advocate Racheal Chibaya, Dr Johnson Shonhe and Dr Harunavamwe Chifamba.

Zacc spokesperson Commissioner John Makamure confirmed the arrests last night and said they should appear in court today. But he declined to outline the allegations they are facing.

In June, three former top NatPharm bosses appeared in court facing allegations of approving Drax International LLC to supply and deliver medicines and surgical sundries to Government without following procurement procedures. Florah Nancy Sifeku (67), Charles Mwaramba (78) and Rolland Mlalazi (55), have since appeared before the Harare Magistrates’ Courts charged with criminal abuse of office.

Sifeku was the NatPharm managing director, Mlalazi was the finance manager while Mwaramba was the operations manager. They were all not asked to plead to the charges when they separately appeared before magistrate Ms Vongai Guriro, and were remanded out of custody on $10 000 bail each.

Sifeku and Mwaramba are jointly charged on one of the offences where the State alleges that sometime in December 2019, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care gave a directive to NatPharm to issue a tender. Drax Consult SAGL had written a letter of interest to supply Zimbabwe with medicine and surgical sundries under a US$20 million facility.

Allegations are that Sifeku and Mwaramba allegedly disregarded the Permanent Secretary’s directive and went on to award a direct purchase to Drax Consult SAGL, saying there was extreme

emergency. Sifeku and Mwaramba are alleged to have fast-tracked the awarding of the order to Drax Consult SAGL to supply the medicines and surgical sundries.

The duo allegedly withheld the tender documents for a month, while they were processing another tender for the same company.

Sifeku and Mwaramba are alleged to have used the two tenders to award and sign a contract for Drax Consult SAGL under the credit facility of US$20 million to supply medicines and surgical sundries.

After realising that Drax Consult SAGL had failed to supply the medicine and sundries within three months as stated by the agreed contract, Sifeku and Mwaramba allegedly deliberately failed to cancel the contract for non-performance.

On another matter in which Sifeku and Mlalazi are jointly charged, the State alleges that sometime early this year, former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo was approached by Delish Nguwaya and Ilir Dedja, who introduced themselves to him as Drax International LLC’s country representative and legal representative.

Nguwaya and Dedja are said to have tendered an expression of interest, saying their company could supply medicines to Zimbabwe through a US$40 million facility.

The State alleges that knowing that Drax International LLC had changed its name to Drax Consult SAGL and previously known as Papi Pharma and had also failed the vetting, Sifeku and Mlalazi went on to offer it another tender to supply US$13 351 071 worth of medicines.

On April 9, 2020, Secretary for Finance Mr George Guvamatanga wrote a letter to Dr Mahomva after noting that Sifeku and Mlalazi had entered into an agreement with Drax International LLC.

The following day, Dr Mahomva responded to the letter saying the ministry had not given NatPharm the greenlight to sign the contract.

Acting on the contract, Drax International LLC is said to have supplied 3 740 coveralls, CatIII type 6B worth US$336 600, 5 040 masks worth US$141 120 and 15 000 test kits for US$510 000.

In another case where Sifeku is appearing on her own, the State alleges that sometime in March 2019, Minister Moyo was approached by Nguwaya with a letter of interest to supply the country with medicines through a US$15 million facility.

Minister Moyo is said to have referred the letter to the former permanent secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji.

On April 11, 2019, Dr Gwinji is said to have written to Sifeku recommending NatPharm to work with 65 product lines of medicines worth US$9,4 million and negotiate the prices downwards.

In the same letter, NatPharm was directed to come up with comparative international prices for the products and apply for necessary waiver from the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.

Sifeku, without drawing the comparative international price schedule and waiting for due vetting process for PAPI Pharma, allegedly went on to sign the agreement to supply medicines worth US$6 306 115.

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