Zvikomborero Parafini, Court Reporter
FORMER Natpharm managing director Newman Madzikwa was yesterday sentenced to two months imprisonment for criminal abuse of office.
He ordered the increase of the medicine handling fees by eleven percent without approval of the board.
Madzikwa, 41, will serve 14 months’ effective jail term after Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya suspended six months on condition that he does not commit a similar offence in the next five years.
In delivering his ruling, Mujaya said the State led convincing evidence from its witnesses and Madzikwa should have appreciated that he was about to get the increase he wanted and should have just waited for the board to approve the increase.
“The increase of the handling fee was justifiable as the entity was operating at a loss, but it was known that it shouldn’t have been made at that time without the approval of the board.
“The defence suggested that ministerial approval was unnecessary to the increase of the handling charge which was disproved one of the State’s star witnesses Dr Washaya who testified that the ministry has the final say.
“In the minutes of one of the meetings that were tendered as evidence, Madzikwa suggested a mark-up of handling fees saying Natpharm would sink if it had not done so, then later told the finance manager Rowland Mlalazi to enforce increase while the ministry was approving.
“He believed that it wasn’t going to be picked up by the audit and luckily it was discovered before implementation,” said Mujaya.
In aggravation, special unit prosecutor Zivanai Macharaga said Zimbabwe has a reputation that public officers are immune to justice and urged the court to set the record straight to existing public officers that the court is serious in punishing offenders who engage in corruption.
Madzikwa was represented by lawyer Harrison Nkomo who told this publication that he intended to file an appeal at the High Court yesterday.