By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Harare Regional magistrate Trynos Utahwashe has dismissed an application by Drax International representative Delish Nguwaya to be removed from remand because the State has failed to provide a trial date in four months.
Nguwaya was arrested in June and is accused of lying to the government that his company was a medical firm in a bid to be awarded tenders for Covid-19 medical supplies to the Health Ministry using his shadowy companies Drax SAGL and Drax International.
The State alleges Nguwaya lied to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government that Drax was based in Switzerland, but it was only a consulting company with no experience in the manufacturing of medicines.
Acting on this misrepresentation, Health Minister Obadiah Moyo authorised a US$2 million medicine supply deal through Natpharm without the company following recommended procedures.
Under pressure from negative press reports on the saga, Mnangagwa was forced to sack Moyo as Health Minister. He is out of jail on ZLW 50 000 bail.
Nguwaya allegedly did the same using Drax International and won a supply deal worth US$40 million. When he attended court for routine on Friday, the state could not provide a trial date, prompting him to apply for removal from remand.
State prosecutor Micheal Reza told the court that Nguwaya’s Docket was ready but the police needed to do extra-territorial investigations before providing the trial date.
Nguwaya’s lawyer, Tafadzwa Hungwe then appealed for the court to remove his client on remand citing that the state did not provide a trial within the time the magistrate court had proscribed.
“We will wait until Jesus comes,” Hungwe complained.
Magistrate Utahwashe told Nguwaya that his case was of national interest and urged him to give the state time until December 1 to finish investigations.
The Covidgate scandal implicated Mnangagwa’s wife Auxilia and his son Collins. Nguwaya is reportedly a friend of the First Family and several pictures of them together have surfaced.
The case led to the arrest of an investigative journalist who exposed the scandal, Hopewell Chin’ono, who spent 45 days at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison on trumped up charges of inciting public violence in connection with 31st July protests against corruption. Nehanda Radio