By Paidashe Mandivengerei
TOP human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa Thursday led a team that submitted a petition signed by thousands of Zimbabweans demanding the immediate dismissal of Health and Child Care Minister, Obadiah Moyo.
The petition, handed over to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Speaker of Parliament and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission chairperson, has 17 899 signatures.
In their demands, Zimbabweans claim the minister has run down the country’s health sector during his turbulent tenure as head of the crucial portfolio and must be relieved of his duties immediately.
Recently, the under-fire cabinet minister was charged for criminal abuse of office after being implicated in a Covid-19 drug and kit procurement scandal.
Moyo’s case has spotlighted on Mnangagwa’s half-hearted commitment to ending high level corruption blamed for plunging the national economy into the abyss.
Last year, Moyo had a face-off with senior and junior doctors who engaged in a job action over remuneration and poor working conditions.
The industrial action, the worst to hit the country’s ailing health sector in decades, dragged on for more than four months, paralysing the public health care system.
However, one Tafadzwa Sambiri has taken the initiative to bell the proverbial cat through initiating an online petition calling on Mnangagwa to sack his minister.
He described the former Chitungwiza hospital CEO’s term as an “unmitigated disaster”.
“Having been closely monitoring how Honourable Obadiah Moyo has failed to handle genuine grievances of health professionals across the board, we are concerned at the continued deterioration of the public health delivery system under the stewardship of Honourable Obadiah Moyo,” reads the petition in part.
Petitioners also accuse Moyo of failure to handle the current Covid-19 menace despite assuring Zimbabweans February this year the country was fully prepared for the pandemic.
Moyo is accused of failure to adequately prepare for the virus outbreak, “thus leading to erratic and uncoordinated interventions that have led to avoidable death and infections”.
The embattled government official is under fire for “dismal failure to adhere to laid down procurement procedures which have led to the exposure of health professionals across the board and to exposure to the virus by ordinary Zimbabweans”.
The petition follows growing calls by political parties and private organisations for Mnangagwa to act on Moyo, moreso, after the national leader set precedent last August through his sacking of then Labour Minister Prisca Mupfumira on alleged corruption.
However, it is almost unlikely Mnangagwa would succumb to pressure to fire Moyo after his own family members have also been implicated in the drug procurement scandal.
Signs the country’s leader had a soft spot for Moyo became apparent when the minister was allowed to return to sleep in his own bedroom when he was arrested for corruption last week.
The state also strangely did not oppose his granting of bail when he appeared in court.
Mnangagwa once boasted he influenced the courts to release MDC Alliance deputy president Tendai Biti when the latter was arrested 2018 to face charges of illegally announcing results of the disputed poll.
This was interpreted to mean the Zimbabwean leader has strong influence over the outcome of cases before the courts.