Zimbabwe Fires Health Minister Arrested over $60 Million Coronavirus Corruption Scheme

Zimbabwe's Health minister, Obadiah Moyo, arrives at court in Harare, Saturday June 20, 2020. Moyo is facing allegations of illegally awarding a multi- million dollar contract for COVID-19 testing kits, drugs and personal protective equipment to a shadowy company. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP Photo

Zimbabwean President Emerson Mnangagwa fired his minister of health on Tuesday, weeks after he was arrested on corruption charges related to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Nick Mangwana announced that Obadiah Moyo had been removed from office for “conduct inappropriate for a government minister.”

“Please be advised that his Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde E D Mnangagwa, has in terms of section 340, subsection (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the President has removed Dr. Obadiah Moyo from the office of Cabinet Minister with immediate effect for conduct inappropriate for a Government Minister,” the statement read.

Moyo’s dismissal comes weeks after he was arrested on corruption charges over allegations he illegally assigned preferential contracts to procure supplies to deal with the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. He was released on $2000 bail after officers charged him with three counts of criminal abuse of office as a public official, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

According to prosecutors, Moyo agreed to a deal with the United Arab Emirates-based company Drax International to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus testing kits without a genuine tender process.

“The accused acted contrary to or inconsistent with his fiduciary duty,” said magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi when deliberating whether to grant bail. “The accused’s actions showed favor to Drax.”

As well as illegal procurement, Mayo allegedly tried to coerce the government into paying for 15,000 coronavirus test kits being held at airport customs in a deal that he would have financially benefited from.

Last month, the Zimbabwean representative of Drax International, Delish Nguwaya, was also arrested for crimes related to the scheme. The company has denied all the allegations against it.

“Most of the articles published on the media are falsehood regarding Drax International LLC,” the company said in an emailed statement to Reuters. “Goods regarding COVID-19 emergency response … have been delivered and no payment has been made by authorities in Zimbabwe.”

According to the latest figures, Zimbabwe has one of the lowest infection rates of coronavirus worldwide, recording just 787 cases and nine deaths. The official data must be viewed with skepticism, however, given the widespread lack of testing and the Mnagagawa regime’s propensity to obscure the truth about issues related to its international reputation.

Zimbabwe is also not the only African country grappling with corruption scandals amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe publicly declared that the ministry had been ravaged by rampant corruption and promised to launch an aggressive crackdown. The most serious incident, according to Kagwe, was when millions of dollars of medical supplies donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma went missing from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when health officials schemed with criminals to steal them upon their arrival.

Follow Ben Kew on Facebook, Twitter at @ben_kew, or email him at bkew@breitbart.com

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