Caged Drax International front-man in fresh bid for freedom

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By Mary Taruvinga

DRAX International representative Delish Nguwaya who landed in the dock two weeks ago on allegations of lying to the government in order to win a US$60 million coronavirus supplies procurement contract has approached the High Court appealing for bail.

His appeal comes after Harare magistrate, Vongai Muchuchuti denied him bail on condition he was facing a very serious offence.

The magistrate also ruled that Nguwaya could not be tried from home because allegations against him triggered so much criticism against the government.

The state alleged that he lied that his company was a drug manufacturing firm yet it was a “mere consulting company.”

He however denies the allegations saying paper work would prove that such allegations never occurred.

Through his lawyers Tafadzwa Hungwe, Ashiel Mugiya and Admire Rubaya, Nguwaya contends that Muchuchuti erred in failing to find out that he was a proper candidate for bail.

He argued that Muchuchuti was wrong in coming to a conclusion that he could offend again.

“The court a quo erred in its appreciation of the ‘interests of justice’ in that it failed to consider carefully the personal circumstances of the appellant and the apparently weak allegations in reaching its judgement on the suitability of appellant to be released on bail,” Hungwe said.

Hungwe said his client has no pending criminal cases or convictions.

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.

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.

Three NatPharm bosses and Health Minister, Obadiah Moyo have also been arrested over the same scandal.

The appeal is yet to be set down for hearing.