Underfire Health Ministry Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro has denied involvement in the $5.6 million National Pharmaceuticals Company (Natpham) tender scam in which he is being investigated for arm-twisting the later to award the tender to an undeserving company called Young Health Care, The Herald reports.
Calling the reports malicious Dr Mangwiro said he only called the headlining evening meeting because there was an emergency and he did not interfere with the tender process:
It is not correct that I interfered with the bidding process. On August 14 2020 at around 2100 hours I received a phone call from the Hon Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care. He wanted me to get an update on what was causing the delays to the procurement of the Covid-19 requirements.
I could not sleep over an emergency and as such I called (acting Natpharm managing director) Mr Zealous Nyabadza to urgently convene a meeting to appraise me on what was causing the delays.
I attended the meeting on August 14 2020 in the company of MoHCC legal advisor Ms S Chikati. The adjudication process had already been completed on August 13 2020. I did not attend the meeting to review any tender processes as this had already been completed.
I informed the meeting that I wanted to get an update on the availability of the PCR Machine and PCR Test kits arising out of the bids. Mr Z Nyabadza explained that Young Health Care Limited had won the tender to supply some of the equipment.
In his lengthy statement denying all charges against him, Dr Mangwiro said Youth Health Care was engaged because there was an emergency:
It is not correct that the MoHCC gave numerous directives to Natpharm Management to make a direct procurement of supplies from Young Health Care Limited which resulted in the delay of the procurement.
The correct position is that by the letter dated 15 July 2020, the acting Secretary for Health and Child Care (Dr Gibson Mhlanga) wrote to Natpharm requesting purchase of Covid-19 PCR test reagents on urgent basis from Young Health Care Limited.
The request was justified on two grounds. Firstly, the urgency was necessitated by a need to facilitate implementation of national testing strategy since the country was experiencing a sharp spike of Covid-19 cases and was unable to meet demand.Secondly, the Ministry wanted to mitigate the exorbitant freight charges by utilising the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care chartered plane.
The plane was in China and coming back to Zimbabwe at no additional cost
I deny the allegation that I directed Natpharm to make a prepayment to Young Health Care Limited for the undelivered supplies contrary to the terms and conditions of the contract signed between Natpharm and Young Health Care Limited. The correct position is that Hon Prof Amon Murwira specifically stated that the payment should be for the items delivered, of which US$127 000 was to be paid out of the US$922 000 stipulated in the contract.
The directive was given in the presence of the Permanent Secretary for Health and Child Care, Mr Z Nyabadza and myself, and was done in the office of Hon Murwira.
Analysts have already urged President Mnangagwa to suspend Dr Mangwiro while ZACC is actively investigating his involvement in the scandal.