Drax saga: Delish Nguwaya denied bail
A LOCAL representative of a company that is at the centre of a US$60 million coronavirus (Covid-19) supplies procurement storm — Delish Nguwaya — has been denied bail.
The 36-year-old — who represents Drax Consult SAGL and Drax LL, also known as Drax International — is facing two counts of fraud. He was remanded in custody to June 30 after the State successfully opposed his admission to bail.
Harare magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guuriro ruled that Nguwaya had a propensity to commit similar offences based on his past which is made up of criminal accusations despite his defence team’s spirited argument that he was a clean man with no conviction.
The court also ruled that Nguwaya was an interested party in the deal despite only signing as a witness and that an order to surrender his passport will not guarantee that he will stand trial.
It is Nguwaya’s argument that all the deals were above board as they were approved by the Finance ministry and that he was being falsely accused.
The State alleges that Nguwaya misrepresented to the government that the two companies were capable of supplying drugs to the country, although they were just mere consulting firms.
The court was told that sometime in 2019, Nguwaya allegedly connived with one Illir Dedja — who is still at large — and tendered an expression of interest in the supply of medicines through a US$20 million facility under a company called Papi Pharma, which was turned down after a vetting process by the relevant government departments.
Later, the ministry of Health received another expression of interest from Nguwaya for a similar US$20 million supply facility, but now under a company called Drax Consult SAGL.
The letter was addressed to Health minister Obadiah Moyo.
It is also alleged that in the expression of interest documents, the accused persons misrepresented that Drax Consult SAGL was a pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland, whereas it was a consulting company with no experience in the manufacture and supply of medicinal products.
Acting on the misrepresentation, the State alleges, Moyo initiated a process through his then permanent secretary Agnes Mahomva, which involved the Finance ministry, the Procurement Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) and NatPharm.
The process culminated in a contract of supply of medicinal products between NatPharm and Drax Consult SAGL. It is also alleged that in November 2019, Nguwaya presented himself before NatPharm managing director Nancy Sifeku and introduced Dedja as the owner of Drax Consult SAGL.
On December 19, 2019, a written contract was eventually agreed between Drax Consult SAGL and NatPharm, which Nguwaya signed as the company’s local representative, with Dedja identified as the owner of the company.
The State says Nguwaya prejudiced the nation, as government officials acted on his misrepresentation to process contract papers.
Further allegations are that after being successful in the first encounter, Nguwaya tendered another expression of interest to supply medicines worth US$40 million — using a slightly different name, Drax International LLC.
Based on trust from the previous engagement, the government allegedly entered into a contract with Drax International LLC, the court was further told.
The misrepresentations are said to have come to light after a noted variance on the prices charged by Drax International LLC, vis-à-vis those prevailing on the market.
The issue has caused a storm in the country, and it has since forced the government to pull the plug on both the US$20 million and US$40 million deals.