Zimbabwe: No Joy for Health Official

Epidemiology and Disease Control director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Portia Manangazira has to wait a little longer before the High Court can hear her bail appeal as no date has yet been set.

On Tuesday, she clocked 10 days in remand prison since her appearance in Harare Magistrates' Court on February 23.

Her lawyers filed an application at the High Court last week appealing against the refusal of the remand court to allow bail.

Manangazira is facing criminal abuse of office charges after allegedly paying facilitation fees to undeserving ministry staff, flouting tender rules when she bought US$280 529 of goods and services, allegedly diverted 3 290 litres of diesel coupons to private vehicles and hired community health workers outside the system she was supposed to use and included 28 of her own relatives on the list.

Mr Harrison Nkomo, who was representing Manangazira, said he was still waiting for communication from the High Court's criminal registrar on when the appeal would be heard.

Manangazira was denied bail by Deputy Chief Magistrate Ms Bianca Makwande who ruled that Manangazira was likely to interfere with investigations and witnesses, including her parents who were among the 28 family members she hired as community health workers to undertake the Covid-19 awareness programmes across the country.

Manangazira, said the magistrate, was still employed at the Ministry of Health and Child Care where there were some witnesses, hence the court's fears that could jeopardise investigations.

Manangazira was remanded in custody to March 8.

Africa Centres for Disease Control, through a non-governmental organisation - African Field Epidemiology Network - availed US$796 675 to fund training of 800 community health workers and all charges arise from alleged improper use of part of this money.

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