BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
NATPHARM board member Gerald Gore appeared in court yesterday charged with criminal abuse of office after failing to appoint a new general manager to replace Flora Nancy Sifeku, who was due for retirement after her 10-year tenure had run out.
Instead, the board allegedly illegally extended Sifeku’s contract after serving for 10 consecutive years in the same capacity at the government-run pharmaceutical company..
Gore (42), who is being charged together with another Natpharm board member Charles Enos Maponga (60), appeared before magistrate Trynos Utawashe, who granted them $3 000 bail each and remanded the matter to September 24.
Their alleged accomplices, Billy Rigava, Rachel Chibaya, Johnson Shonhe and Harinavamwe Chifamba, have since been charged over the same matter.
Natpharm is wholly owned by the Health and Child Care ministry and its existence is derived from the Government Medical Stores Act.
It is the State case that Sifeku was in 2015 appointed Natpharm managing director under a three-year contract.
The State alleges on July 31, 2018, former Natpharm board member George Washaya wrote a notice of retirement to Sifeku.
Furthermore, the notice clearly outlined that according to the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act, Sifeku was no longer eligible for reappointment, having served as Natpharm general manager for more than 10 years.
It is alleged that the former Natpharm board members prematurely dissolved and the entity operated without a board from October 2018 to June 2019, during which period Sifeku was the one reporting directly to former Health minister Obadiah Moyo.
The State alleges on July 1, 2019, Gore was appointed Natpharm board member by Moyo. On July 18, Gore attended a human resources committee meeting which was held at Natpharm.
The meeting was chaired by Chifamba during which the issue of recruiting a new managing director was discussed.
It is alleged on November 30, 2018, Sifeku’s six-month contract extension expired and she continued working without a renewed contract and without the President’s approval of reappointment.
On October 5, 2019, Maponga was appointed Natpharm board member and was served with a letter of appointment on December 30, 2019.
In January 2020, a full Natpharm board meeting was held and they discussed Sifeku’s issue, but they continued working with her well knowing she had no valid
The State alleges that due to Sifeku’s working without a contract, she prejudiced the Natpharm of $631 997 and US$2 865 as she received salaries and benefits.