AFTER immense public pressure following the exposure of how the public purse was being looted through the Covid-19 procurement scandal, the government belatedly arrested Drax International frontman Delish Nguwaya last Friday. But the question in the court of public is: “Why are the public officials who assisted him walking scot free?”
Nguwaya, an associate of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son Collins, was arrested on accusations of lying to the government that his company Drax International was a medical firm in a bid to be awarded Covid-19 procurement deals.
The company was awarded contracts to supply medicines and surgical sundries worth US$60 million without going to tender, before the contract was revoked following a public outcry over inflated prices.
For example, the company was supplying N95 face masks at US$28 yet the average cost for the product was US$4. It has also emerged that Nguwaya has a colourful criminal record and had failed security clearance conducted by the Central Intelligence Organisation.
In clinching the contract, the security clearance was disregarded, suggesting that some powerful persons were behind the deal. Questions have also arisen as to how a criminal found himself around Mnangagwa, his wife Auxillia and their sons, with whom he has been pictured. In serious countries, presidents and their families are very careful about the people they hobnob with.
If the country’s justice system is to gain credibility, law enforcement agents should investigate the role played by powerful persons in facilitating dodgy procurement contracts.
What was Mnangagwa’s role in the deals? This question must be answered in the national interest. What role did Health minister Obadiah Moyo, who pushed for the deal, play? What was the task of Finance permanent secretary George Guvamatanga, who authorised payments? In the court of public opinion, Nguwaya is considered a mere fly in this matter. Who are the tigers?
After all, he did not award himself the contract, but was assisted by public officials who flouted procurement procedures. They, too, should be in the dock, otherwise the case around Nguwaya will prove to be a smokescreen. It is disheartening that the grand corruption is happening at a time the country is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, which is threatening to deal a fatal blow to Zimbabwe’s sickly economy, already in the intensive care unit.
The fact that the corruption is happening during a serious pandemic and at a time when more than half of the population is food insecure, lays bare the parasitic nature of our leaders. They are keen to suck the blood out of long-suffering Zimbabweans for their self-aggrandisement.
The Drax case will be the barometer with which Mnangagwa’s commitment to fighting corruption is measured.Zimbabweans and the international community are watching with an eagle eye.Over to you, Mr President.