SENIOR STAFF WRITER
AUTHORITIES are launching a nationwide probe into donated coronavirus funds and other materials, amid fears that significant portions of these gifts were looted by politically-connected individuals, the Daily News reports.
This emerged in Harare at the weekend when Auditor General Mildred Chiri, pictured, spoke to legislators, where she revealed that she would be carrying out a thorough national audit into all donated Covid-19 funds and materials.
It also comes after the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) interrogated deputy Health and Child Care minister John Mangwiro last week, pending the finalisation of his corruption allegations docket relating to a coronavirus tender.
“My office is going to carry out an audit on how the donated funds (and other materials) were used and we need vehicles to go out to do this.
“This means that the office of the auditor general must travel around the country extensively to give assurance to tax payers how their funds were utilised,” Chiri said.
“According to Section 309 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the functions of the Auditor General are … among other duties … to audit the accounts, financial systems and financial management of all departments.
“Section 298 of the Constitution provides that public funds must be expended transparently, prudently, economically and effectively.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic’s significant resources in the form of financial and other donations which have been given to the government, these need to be properly accounted for, independently verified and audited,” Chiri added.
This comes as there are suspicions that some bigwigs may have gotten their hands on the donated Covid-19 materials.
It also comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired Cabinet ministers and several other high-ranking government officials after they were mired in corruption allegations.
Apart from cutting loose those accused of partaking in graft, Mnangagwa has also vowed to clamp down on both Zanu PF bigwigs and ordinary citizens suspected to have acquired unexplained wealth.
Meanwhile, and as was first correctly reported by the Daily News and later confirmed by Zacc, Mangwiro remains under investigation for allegedly forcing Natpharm to award a US$5,6 million Covid-19 tender to Young Health Care — a company that was said not to be registered with the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) at the time.
According to a report by Zacc’s compliance and systems department, it is claimed that Mangwiro arm-twisted Natpharm executives to award the tender for laboratory equipment, reagents and consumables for Covid-19 to Young Health Care.
It is further alleged that Mangwiro held a meeting with Natpharm’s tender adjudication team one evening, before allegedly ordering them to issue a supply order the same night for Covid-19 consumables to the firm.
The company was said not to have been registered with Praz at the time — which allegedly saw Mangwiro causing the postponement of the tender to allow the firm to get registered.
However, the tender has since been cancelled after the intervention of the graft-busting commission.
The Zacc report said Mangwiro allegedly convened a meeting with the Natpharm adjudication team where he threatened them with dismissal, after he had queried why the team was refusing to award the tender to Young Health Care.
The report alleged that Natpharm’s acting managing director reported that he had received a phone call from Mangwiro instructing him to convene a meeting with his adjudication team during odd hours, to explain why the tender was not awarded to the company.
“The deputy minister (Mangwiro) also demanded that a purchase order be issued that same night.
“The adjudication team were picked up from their homes around 2200 hours and were interrogated by the deputy minister until the early hours of the following day.
“The deputy minister threatened the team with dismissal for failing to award Young Health Care the contracts,” the Zacc report said.
“Procurement process of the tender 04/2020 was marred by directives from … Mangwiro, resulting in delaying the procurement.
“A letter from the then acting secretary of Health (Gibson) Mhlanga dated 15 July 2020, instructing Natpharm to make direct procurement of supplies from Young Health Care … was issued when the company was not registered with the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.
“This is a violation of provisions of Praz Circular 1 of 2020 which stipulate that only … listed suppliers are sources of Covid-19 supplies,” Zacc said further in the report.
The report added that when Natpharm insisted on competitive bidding, the tender process was allegedly postponed to allow Young Health Care to register with Praz.
“This delayed the procurement of Covid-19 materials. The deputy minister has usurped the authority of the permanent secretary as the accounting officer,” the report added.
According to Zacc, Mangwiro did not have the powers and mandate to undertake administrative duties — which were the responsibility of the permanent secretary.
The report further alleged that Young Health Care inflated prices and was also paid in advance before it supplied the purchased goods, after Mangwiro also allegedly directed Natpharm to do so.
This apparently occurred a few months after former Health and Child Care minister, Obadiah Moyo, had been sacked by Mnangagwa following his arrest for allegedly awarding a US$60 million tender to Drax International for the supply of coronavirus drugs and personal protective equipment.
Mnangagwa has declared zero tolerance on graft and has so far sacked Moyo and former Labour and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira, after they were mired in corruption.
In addition, several other high profile individuals have been arraigned before the courts as Zacc clamps down on corruption.
Former Energy minister in the late former president Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet, Samuel Undenge, is currently serving a jail term after he was recently convicted of corruption.
Also sent to jail was former director of State Residences, Douglas Tapfuma, who was convicted after corruptly importing vehicles for his own gain. He was sentenced to an effective four years in prison.
Only last month, Mnangagwa also jettisoned one of his bodyguards who was implicated in an alleged gold smuggling racket.
Stephen Chenjerai Tserayi, a member of the Close Unit, was suspended following the recent arrest of the controversial president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF), Henrietta Rushwaya — who was busted at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport for allegedly attempting to smuggle 6kg of gold to Dubai.