Zimbabwe health minister Obadiah Moyo booted after Covid-19 tender arrest

08 July 2020 - 07:17
By Lenin Ndebele and Sharon Mazingaizo
Zimbabwe's health minister Obadiah Moyo could face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty of abuse of office. In this file picture, a nurse hands out medication at Mtendere Mission Hospital in Chirundu.
Image: Gideon Mendel/Corbis via Getty Images Zimbabwe's health minister Obadiah Moyo could face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty of abuse of office. In this file picture, a nurse hands out medication at Mtendere Mission Hospital in Chirundu.

Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired his health minister at the centre of a $60m (about R1bn) Covid-19 supplies deal.

Obadiah Moyo, known as “DJ Mighty Biscuit” in Harare’s yesteryear nightclub circuit, was summarily dismissed for “conduct inappropriate for a government minister”.

Moyo was arrested last month and accused of abuse of office. He allegedly corruptly issued $60m in tenders to supply Covid-19 test kits and medical equipment to obscure companies linked to the political elite. If found guilty, he could face up to 15 years in jail. He was granted bail of $2,000 (about R34,320).

Chief secretary to the president and cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, on Tuesday announced the immediate removal of the health minister.

“Please be advised that His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde E. D. Mngangagwa, has in terms of Section 340, subsection (1), paragraph (f) as read with section 104, subsection (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, removed Dr. Obediah Moyo from the office of Cabinet Minister with immediate effect for conduct inappropriate for a Government Minister,” the government said in a statement.

Dr Aaron Musara of the Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors’ Association told TimesLIVE that the firing of the health minister was a welcome development in view of the serious charges and evidence surrounding him.

“As doctors we welcome the development although it came a bit too late. There is more to this issue, it’s not only about the health minister, a full investigation should be done and bring everyone involved to book,” said Musara.

The Covid-19 scandal comes as nurses and doctors in Zimbabwe are demanding to be paid US dollars because of the collapse in the local currency’s value and soaring inflation.

AFP quoted a medical worker as saying an average nurse's salary has eroded from $800 (about R13,733) in 2008 to the equivalent of $35 (about R600) now.