State case weakens as key witness in Parirenyatwa trial disowns statement

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By Mary Taruvinga

FORMER Health Minister David Parirenyatwa’s nepotism trial took a new twist when a key witness in the matter Friday disowned his earlier statement.

Parirenyatwa is accused of unlawfully appointing his relative, one Newman Madzikwa, as managing director with the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm).

In court Friday, Dr George Washaya, former NatPharm board chair, accused the police of playing around with his statement.

He said what was before the courts by way of his statement was far from what he had submitted during police investigations.

Washaya said when the police took his statement, they brought a document which he signed but did not bother to first scrutinise after trusting the company’s legal advisor who told him to “just sign”.

“The statement was recorded during Obadiah Moyo’s (current Health Minister) tenure. Three CID agents came to my office and had something already written before they got my statement.

“I was at my surgery and did not think about cross checking facts before signing the statement,” Washaya said during cross examination by Parirenyatwa’s lawyer, Deepak Mehta.

Washaya continued exonerating Parirenyatwa saying Madzikwa’s appointment was a decision by the entire ministry and not by Parirenyatwa alone.

He also told court that Nancy Sifeku, who was replaced by Madzikwa, was no longer competent, adding that her time to retire had already lapsed since she had served for more than 12 years at NatPharm.

Throughout his testimony, Washaya cleared Parirenyatwa of any wrongdoing.

He described the ex-minister as the best minister for the ministry ever.

However, the State, represented by Brian Vito of the President’s special anti-corruption unit, alleges that Parirenyatwa caused double dipping for NatPharm which ended up paying two salaries towards the MD post since Sifeku’s contract was not dissolved.

Trail continues next week.