By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE Covid-19 pandemic has not only caused devastating effects in terms of loss of life but has opened avenues for associated crime, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo has said.
Addressing the media Wednesday on International Anti-Corruption Day, the ZACC boss said the pandemic has created unprecedented corruption risks, price manipulation by for Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), ventilators, medication and falsified medicines that compromised the safety of patients.
Matanda-Moyo said the pandemic has created vast opportunities for corruption to thrive due to the relation of safeguards under protocols and weakened oversight mechanisms as a response to Covid-19.
“The Commission conducted compliance checks in the procurement process for the purchase of Covid-19 drugs and equipment.
“The exercise led to the arrest of senior government officials from the ministry of health and NatPharm,” she said.
“The Commission is assessing systems of 92 local authorities to plug loopholes for corruption and fraud particularly in procurement.
“The exercise led to the arrest of several senior officials in the local authorities.
“The Commission has already started working with these local authorities to establish Integrity Committees and ensure that their systems and procedures are water-tight.”
She added, “The systems and compliance reviews that the Commission undertook at NatPharm and Department of National Scholarships unearthed some corrupt practices that have resulted in the arrest and appearances in court of the implicated officials.”
Covid-19 also saw the government cancelling all its contracts with controversial Swiss medicine supplier Drax International.
The company is fronted in Zimbabwe by dodgy businessperson Delish Nguwaya who was awarded contracts to supply medicines and surgical sundries worth US$60 million without going to tender.
The company was supplying NP95 face masks at US$28 each when the average cost for the product was US$4.
The Drax scandal also implicated former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo who was later arrested over the allegations and subsequently fired from government.
He is currently on bail awaiting trial.