US$1 million COVID-19 supplies tender scandal: Govt cancels all Drax International contracts

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UNDER FIRE government has bowed to citizens’ pressure and cancelled all contracts for the supply and delivery of medicines and surgical sundries awarded to controversial company Drax International with immediate effect, Zim Morning Post can reveal.

In a letter gleaned by Zim Morning Post on Tuesday and directed to Natpharm managing director, government gave the pharmaceutical giant an ultimatum of up to June 12 to submit documentation relating to the cancellation to the acting secretary for Health ministry Gibson Mhlanga.

Part of the letter authored by Mhlanga to Natpharm read:

“You are being directed to cancel all contracts that you had with Drax SAGL with immediate effect.

“Please be advised that the process needs to be completed by latest Friday June 12 and all documentation showing cancellation of same to be submitted in my  office then.

Please treat the matter with the urgency it requires.”

There was a public outcry after it emerged that  the Swiss registered company was given special treatment in the release of COVID-19 emergency medical supplies that were stuck at Robert Mugabe International Airport through their association with one of the First Sons, Collins who immediately poured cold water on the claims.

The company also corroborated Collins (Mnangagwa)’s claims and stated in a statement  that their only local proxy is controversial businessman Delish Nguwaya whose mandate is limited  and all their business dealings under scrutiny, were conducted above board and in tandem with the country’s procurement regulations.

The main outcry was on the inflated prices of the supplies and Zim Morning Post made a local market price survey in comparison with the prices government is paying to the suppliers and established that Drax had inflated prices.

Government was obliged to fork out US$ 90 per overall with 3 740 units having been supplied and totaling to US$336 600 as compared to a maximum price of US$20 per overall being charged locally.

The highest price for a test kit locally is going for US$ 15 after a rigorous price comparison in Harare yet government has been charged a staggering US$34 for 15 000 units totaling to US$510 000.

According to the document Face masks (N-95) were charged US$28, yet local prices for a similar product range from between US$2 to US$5.

Government was therefore billed US$987 720.

Finance ministry Secretary George Guvamatanga then leapt to his ministry’s defence citing that the ministry was only responsible for payments and line ministries were in charge of the due diligence and technical aspects regarding procurement of products.

He cited a perfect example wherein he noted that for instance, say government is procuring equipment for road rehabilitation, it is the onus of the line ministry to verify the technical aspect.

Meanwhile, social media was abuzz with images of Nguwaya posing for ‘Kodak moments’ with President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF acting spokesperson dismissed any tincture of association based on images.

He reasoned that the President is a man of the people and had several pictures taken with well-wishers who swarmed State House with COVID-19 donations.

He further warned individuals and publications to stop what he described as systematic attacks on the First Family.

“We are aware that these baseless attacks did not start today but need to stop forthwith,” Chinamasa said.

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