Zimbabwe: Chiwenga Hides Potentially Damning Audit Report On Health Ministry Corruption

Vice President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga in Harare, June 24, 2021.

VICE President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga has been sitting on the Auditor-General's specially commissioned audit report for the ministry, which looks at potential abuses of Covid-19 funds, despite the fact that it has been ready for tabling in the National Assembly for months.

The special audit, covering 2020, was commissioned after reports of rampant abuse of Covid-19 at the ministry of Health and Child Care which he leads.

The failure to table the report has since given rise to widespread speculation that it may have been motivated by a deliberate desire to conceal its potentially damming contents, which are still yet to be made public.

The failure has since resulted in Auditor General Mildred Chiri transmitting a copy of the report directly to the Speaker of the National Assembly, who is empowered by law to table it in the event that a responsible minister is unwilling to do so.

Mudenda informed the National Assembly of the development Tuesday saying he was legally empowered to lay any such report before the House of Assembly.

"I have to inform the House that Section 12 (2) of the Audit Office Act (CAP. 22:18), provides that; where the minister or appropriate minister fails to lay any report before the House of Assembly in terms of Section 11(1) (a) within the period specified therein, the Comptroller and Auditor-General shall transmit a copy of such report to the Speaker of the National Assembly for the Speaker to lay it before the National Assembly," Mudenda, himself a lawyer by profession, said.

"I therefore lay upon the table a special audit report by the Auditor-General on COVID-19 pandemic financial management and utilisation of public resources in the country's provinces by Ministries, Departments and Agencies," Mudenda said.

There was a public outcry early this year after Health ministry epidemiology and disease control director Portia Manangazira was arrested in connection with criminal abuse relating to allegations she misappropriated funds meant for Covid-19 awareness programmes.

The case is still in the courts.

Before that, former Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo, was arrested on allegations of his involvement in Covid-19 tender scandals amounting to US$60 million.

The tenders, which were allegedly unprocedurally awarded at his behest, were for the procurement of Covid 19 test kits and protective equipment for health workers.

The case is also still pending.

Also early this year, deputy minister of Health, John Mangwiro - widely considered as Chiwenga's right hand man - became subject for a corruption investigation after he allegedly railroaded the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm), in dramatic events, including visiting the parastatal's workers at night and threatening them with dismissal, to award a US$5,6 million contract to an "undeserving company".

The audit report is still to be availed for public consumption.

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