US$1m COVID-19 tender scam deepens
By Everson Mushava
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son, Collins, yesterday distanced himself from Delish Nguwaya, whose firm Drax International was recently controversially awarded a US$1 million contract to supply COVID-19 equipment without going to tender.
Collins said he had no business or personal relationship with Drax International and Nguwaya. But pictures of him and his twin brother Shaun in the company of Nguwaya at Mnangagwa’s inauguration immediately went viral on social media platforms.
“Over the past month, several online print outlets published materials containing false allegations against me with an organisation called Drax International,” Collins said in a statement.
“I am not a member of the said organisation and I have no shares of interests in their transaction with the government of Zimbabwe. I have no business or personal relationship with any Drax International’s representatives, including Delish Nguwaya.”
His statement came after he was named as Nguwaya’s business partner in the supply of a US$1 million consignment of COVID-19 equipment to government at an inflated cost.
Collins’ statement also came shortly after Drax International had issued a statement claiming their transaction with government was procedural, although Finance ministry secretary George Guvamatanga admitted in another leaked memo that they had breached government procurement procedures.
Drax was registered as a government supplier after stating its headquarters as Switzerland, but on its website, it says it was registered in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, in 2020.
The company uses a bank account held with Bank One Limited in Mauritius. It signed deals with the government worth over US$60 million for the supply of drugs to National Pharmaceuticals (NatPharm), the State-owned drugs supplier in 2019, meaning the government entered into business with an unregistered company which only got registered this year.
Guvamatanga maintained that the exceptions authorisation for the release of the items at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport was only made because the country was in urgent need of test kits.
He also disclosed that an order to suspend Drax International’s US$60 million for supply of pharmaceuticals to NatPharm was made on the basis that the goods were over-priced, but went on to order the Finance ministry to go ahead and pay for a consignment of test kits from the same company
“Regarding the suspension of the US$20 million and the cancellation of the US$40 million contracts, Treasury position still stands and will only be reviewed once the fiscal capacity for repayment has improved, review of the pricing structures has been done and proper procurement procedures are observed and finalised in consultation with Treasury,” Guvamatanga wrote.
He said the contract was cancelled because government did not accept the prices that had been quoted on items under the Drax International contract. The firm was directed to engage Natpham to review the prices downwards. News Day