Zimbabwe Health Minister Fired Over Virus-Linked Equipment Scam

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Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired his health minister after the anti-corruption commission charged him with corruption related to the procurement of equipment needed to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The Anti-Corruption Commission said June 20 that Obadiah Moyo was involved in a $60 million scam to supply health equipment needed to fight the pandemic. A lower court released Moyo on Z$50,000 bail -- about $2,000 at the time. Depreciation of the currency means that’s less than $800 now. Moyo had to surrender his passport and must make regular appearances at police stations until he’s scheduled to appear in court July 31. He hasn’t been asked to plead yet.

Zimbabwe Health Minister Fired Over Virus-Linked Equipment Scam

Obadiah Moyo was dismissed with immediate effect for “conduct unbecoming a government minister,” according to Secretary to Cabinet Misheck Sibanda late Tuesday. He will be replaced by Amon Murwira.

A lack of funds and protective equipment for health practitioners has hindered Zimbabwe’s coronavirus response even as the private sector has stepped in to import test kits. Since March, tens of thousands of people have been arrested for defying movement restrictions or not wearing face masks under an indefinite lockdown, yet many returnees who were put in quarantine have managed to escape from isolation centers. The country had 787 confirmed cases as of Wednesday.

The health minister is the second minister fired by Mnangagwa since he came to power in 2017. In August last year, he fired Labor Minister Prisca Mupfumira for corruption after the anti-graft body said she’d misappropriated $94 million from the state’s social security fund.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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