By Mary Taruvinga
A Harare Magistrate has heard that former Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa had built “so much confidence” with the board at State drugs manufacturer National Pharmaceuticals that they were prepared to take anything he said.
Former NatPharm board chairperson, George Washaya under cross examination from prosecutor Brian Vito insisted that Parirenyatwa did nothing wrong and that he appointed Newman Madzikwa with the full backing of the board.
Vito had asked Washaya why they accepted Parirenyatwa’s decision considering that lawyers had advised against that.
“We sought legal opinion from Madzonga and Associates lawyers and we were advised that the minister cannot do that,” said Washaya.
Asked why the board did not take heed of the advice Washaya said, “He (Parirenyatwa) had built so much confidence in the board.
“He was doing so much for NatPharm and the ministry. There was no reason for the board to doubt his opinion.”
Washaya said the board was already in a process to retire the outgoing managing director Florence Nancy Sifeku.
“Like I said earlier during cross examination with the defense counsel, the outgoing managing director was not working well. She had exceeded 12 years at NatPharm. She was not responding to demands quickly.
“We (the board) had already given her six months’ notice to retire,” he said.
Washaya went on to defend Parirenyatwa adding the then Health Minister was “under pressure from Cabinet.”
“The situation was not normal. People were demanding medication which was becoming a scarcity.
“The new dispensation needed medicines quickly and that’s why the accused removed Sifeku because she was no longer competent,” the ex-Natpharm board chair said.
The State alleges that by employing Madzikwa, Parirenyatwa caused NatPharm to pay wto people for the same position which was an unnecessary cost.
It is Parirenyatwa’s defense that he did what was expected of him as a minister.
He argued that it was the ministry’s decision to employ Madzikwa. The trial continues next week.