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Health top official accused of criminal abuse of office seeks discharge

Local News
Portia Manangazira

A TOP official in the Health and Child Care ministry Portia Manangazira, who was arrested for criminal abuse of office for allegedly facilitating the recruitment and training of 28 family members as community health workers, has filed an application for exception at the commencement of her trial.

Manangazira is also accused of authorising procurement of goods for US$280 529 without following due process.  She allegedly committed the offences at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manangazira (52), who was being represented by Garikai Mhishi denied the allegations saying the charges were not disclosing an offence.

She argued that the charges were defective because they did not state her duties as a public officer and the manner in which what was allegedly done was contrary to such duties.

“The charges do not state the laid down procedures which the accused was supposed to follow during of COVID-19 pandemic. They also do not state the formal channels which the accused did not follow. They are, therefore, defective.

“The charges are defective in that they state that the accused acted contrary or inconsistent with her duties without mentioning where those duties arise from,” she submitted.

Harare magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa will deliver her ruling on April 6.

The State alleges that in July last year, Manangazira requested funding to recruit and train voluntary community workers to assist in raising awareness on COVID-19.

An allocation of US$796 675 was availed by the Africa Centre 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.

It is also alleged that between July 2020 and last month, she engaged 1 000 community health workers meant to be deployed throughout the country on a COVID-19 awareness campaign, without involving provincial and district medical directors and officers.

The State alleges that the health workers were paid US$600 each for a period of three months and preliminary investigations revealed that 28 of the recruits were related to Manangazira.

It is also alleged that between July 16, 2020 and last month, Manangazira acted unlawfully as a public officer when she authorised the procurement of goods and services for US$280 529 without following due processes after she 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 staff.

She also faces another charge of authorising the issuance of fuel coupons for 3 290 litres to privately-owned vehicles not registered with the ministry.

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