BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
A HARARE magistrate yesterday denied bail to Health and Child Care ministry director of epidemiology and disease control, Portia Manangazira, who allegedly abused her powers and employed 28 close relatives, including her father as community health workers.
Manangazira (52) appeared before magistrate Bianca Makwande who said she was likely to interfere with State witnesses.
Manangazira was represented by Harrison Nkomo and Tatenda Mhishi.
She was remanded in custody to March 9 pending finalisation of investigations.
The prosecution stated that in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ministry requested for funding for the voluntary community health workers training and deployment.
An allocation of US$796 675 was availed by the Africa Centres for Disease Control, through the African Field Epidemiology Network, a non-governmental organisation, to fund the line items and services meant to be used at training workshops for 800 community health workers who were to lead COVID-19 awareness campaigns in various communities.
It is further alleged that between July 16, 2020 and January 2021, Manangazira unlawfully authorised the procurement of goods and services amounting to US$280 529 without following due process. She allegedly showed favour to selected suppliers.
Manangazira is also accused of sanctioning the payment of facilitation fees amounting to US$8 835 to undeserving Health ministry employees.
It is alleged that from July 2020 to January 2021, she identified 1 000 health community workers meant to be deployed throughout the country to raise awareness on the COVID-19 pandemic, without involving provincial medical directors and district medical officers.
The State alleges that the health workers were paid US$600 each for a period of three months.
Preliminary investigations also revealed that 28 of the recruited community health participants were related to Manangazira.
Manangazira is also facing another charge of ordering the issuance of
3 290 litres of diesel coupons to privately-owned vehicles not registered with the ministry.
Lancelot Mutsokoti appeared for the State.
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