Brian Chitemba, Harare Bureau
SENIOR Government officials allegedly connived with private suppliers to siphon US$3 million from Treasury through inflated prices for Covid-19 materials, it has been learnt.
The matter is being investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) after the lid was lifted by a whistleblower. ZACC spokesperson Commissioner John Makamure said arrests of the Government officials were imminent as the anti-graft body was seized with the matter.
“The names of the Government officials and private suppliers cannot be released now as investigations are still underway,” he said.
Recently, Comm Makamure said a ZACC compliance and systems review unit descended on Government offices to probe a multi-million dollar tender, as allegations were raised that Covid-19 materials had been astronomically inflated to bleed Treasury.
The investigation resulted in the tender being cancelled, thus saving US$3 million.
“Even if the tender was cancelled, an act of corruption was committed, hence the ongoing investigations,” he said.
This comes a few months after former Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo was arrested in connection with a US$60 million procurement scandal involving Drax International.
“Dr Moyo is currently out on bail.
Said Comm Makamure: “In the past couple of weeks, ZACC’s compliance and systems review unit managed to save the country over US$3 million that could have been siphoned to line the pockets of corrupt elements within our midst. These individuals imposed proxy companies which did not comply with provisions of the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) Circular 1 of 2020 for emergency procurement of Covid-19 materials.
“The individuals went on to demand payments of goods at an extremely inflated cost. The ZACC compliance team’s intervention, after having been informed of the unavailability of the said materials, subsequently resulted in the cancellation of the tender, saving State funds in the process. The matter is now under investigation to bring those behind this scam to book.”
He said there was a worrying trend of wanton violation of PRAZ Circular 1 of 2020 for emergency procurement of Covid-19 materials, which was promulgated to allow for the expeditious purchase of medical equipment and drugs as the nation fights Covid-19. Those in charge of buying the Covid-19 materials, Comm Makamure added, should be transparent and accountable or risk going to jail.