By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) board chairperson, George Washaya, told a Harare court Tuesday that ex-health minister David Parirenyatwa did nothing criminal by employing a claimed relative to the company.
Parirenyatwa is facing criminal abuse of office charges after he replaced NatPharm managing director Florence Nancy Sifeku with Newman Madzikwa.
Testifying before Harare regional magistrate Elijah Makomo, Washaya showered Parirenyatwa with praise.
“As NatPharm board, we discovered that Mrs Sifeku was being overwhelmed with work. Stock levels of drugs continued to shrink, and she would take too long to procure medicines,” he said.
“There was an outcry from the whole country because of her inability. For example, early last year, urgent action was needed to procure drugs during the first quarter of the year, but she only managed to do so in the second quarter.
“The former minister had done a lot of things which benefitted NatPharm and we would never take his move to appoint Madzikwa as a wrong one.
“For example, he (Parirenyatwa) facilitated a $26 million fund to secure NatParm debt and helped us with sourcing land to build very big warehouses at Harare central hospital as well as in Masvingo and Mutare.
Washaya said Sifeku was too old and had exceeded the number of years she was supposed to be with the parastatal as she turned 65 last year.
He said there were no reservations from the board over Madzikwa’s appointment.
“This was for the good of the company. The board accepted it as a useful move for the company.
We understood Madzikwa; he was hardworking. He had furthered his education abroad and was an expert in logistics.
“He was the exact person we wanted at NatPharm.”
Washaya said the situation at the company was no longer normal because of Sifeku’s incompetency.
“All the years I have worked with the minister, he never gave such a directive. He was not happy with the situation. Yes, it was not a normal situation,” he said.
The former board chairperson also told court that Sifeku was a violent person and was once reprimanded after he verbally attacked NatPharm operations manager.
Parirenyatwa is facing criminal abuse of office charges after he favoured Madzikwa with the top position at NatPharm against the law.
Prosecutors allege this caused double dipping for NatPharm as the government owned company ended up paying two salaries towards the managing director’s post.