Zimbabwe health minister charged over Covid-19 kit scandal

Monday June 22 2020

Medical personnel check temperatures of patients visiting on April 25, 2020, Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. PHOTO | ZINYANGE AUNTONY | AFP



Zimbabwe’s Health minister was on Saturday released on bail, a day after he was arrested over allegations of corruption after the government bought $60 million worth of medical equipment from an unregistered company.

Dr Obadiah Moyo was charged with criminal abuse of office after he approved contracts awarded to a company known as Drax International, which has offices in Dubai.

A representative of Drax International, Delish Nguwaya, was arrested over the same deal last week.

The company allegedly supplied medical equipment to fight Covid-19 at inflated prices.

Dr Moyo is accused of engaging the company even after it was flagged by the country’s security agents.


A number of officials from the government’s medical drugs supplier that approved the contracts awarded to Drax International have also been arrested.

The company allegedly kept changing names until it finally landed the lucrative contracts. 

Last week, the government said it had cancelled the deals involving the importation of surgical masks and coronavirus test kits.

Zimbabwe, with nearly 500 coronavirus cases, is struggling to deal with the pandemic due to lack of resources and intermittent strikes by health workers over poor working conditions.

Dr Moyo became the second serving minister to be arrested for corruption during President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s tenure.

Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira was arrested last year for allegedly defrauding the government’s pension scheme of millions of dollars.

Ms Mupfumira was eventually fired from government.

Former Energy minister Samuel Undenge was on Friday sent to jail for two years after his appeal to overturn a corruption conviction was rejected.

President Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017, has been accused of failing to rein in corrupt officials in his inner circle.

Zimbabwe, which is facing a deepening economic crisis, is said to be losing more than $2 billion to corruption every year.