Coronavirus: Zimbabwe health minister in court on corruption charges

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Zimbabwe’s lockdown was eased in May

Zimbabwe’s health minister is appearing in court in Harare charged with corruption over the procurement of coronavirus tests and equipment.

Obadiah Moyo was arrested on Friday after the government came under pressure from the opposition and on social media.

A $20m (£16m) contract was awarded to a Hungary-registered firm, allegedly without going through proper processes.

The government has not commented on Mr Moyo’s arrest.

He is the second minister in Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to face corruption charges.

The deal with two-month old firm Drax Consult is alleged to have been completed without the legal consent of Zimbabwe’s procurement registration authority.

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The opposition has also expressed concern about a $2m payment to Drax Consult. The payment was flagged as suspicious by Hungarian authorities in March.

Last week businessman Delish Nguwaya, who is believed to be Drax’s representative in Zimbabwe, was arrested in connection with the case.

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Zimbabwe is suffering a severe economic crisis – on Wednesday nurses demonstrated over low pay

The scandal was initially exposed on social media, the BBC’s Harare correspondent Shingai Nyoka says.

People started raising questions about how a controversial businessman, who had failed a vetting process months earlier, had managed to set up a new company and secure millions of dollars’ worth of contracts to supply medicines and equipment – some at hugely inflated prices.

The government has since cancelled all contracts with Drax, the state-run Herald newspaper reported.

Zimbabwe says it has confirmed nearly 500 virus cases, including four deaths, but the actual number of cases is thought to be higher.

The country is also facing its worst economic crisis in more than a decade and there is mounting public anger over poor services and corruption.