Judgment reserved in Nguwaya case
HIGH Court judge Pisirai Kwenda yesterday reserved judgment after hearing submissions during the bail appeal of Drax International representative Delish Nguwaya, who is facing two counts of fraud over coronavirus (Covid-19) procurement deals.
Kwenda queried why nothing was being said about the manner in which the government deliberately flouted procurement procedures in the controversial US$60 million drugs deal.
Nguwaya was represented by Tafadzwa Hungwe and Ashiel Mugiya, who argued that magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti had erred by denying Nguwaya bail based on allegations that were not supported by facts.
However, prosecutors Lancelot Mutsokoti and Tapuwa Mapfuwa maintained they had a strong case against Nguwaya, adding that the alleged fraudulent conduct could be established considering that after failing to convince the government with Papi Pharma LLC, he came up with another offer under Drax.
Kwenda then queried why emphasis was being put on Nguwaya’s misrepresentation of the functions of the companies he represented and not on how government representatives breached procurement processes they were aware of.
“I am trying to understand something here. You are saying that the State was misled into dealing with the appellant’s company thinking he was a manufacturer of drugs.
“Had the supplier been a manufacturer, the contract would have been above board. Is that how government contracts are completed that any person comes and makes an offer, checks are done and contracts are signed?
“There is something amiss here. I just want to understand the State’s allegation and why there is no ventilation on this aspect?
“Why would government representatives fail to follow procurement procedures? Those are the grey areas,” Kwenda said.
Allegations are 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 and Child Care 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.