Zvikomborero Parafini

THE anti-graft trial of the director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Portia Manangazira, which was set to get underway yesterday, was postponed once again after the witnesses failed to show up.

Manangazira is accused of paying facilitation fees to undeserving Ministry staff, flouting tender rules and embezzling 3 290 litres worth of diesel coupons.

She appeared before Harare magistrate Learnmore Mapiye who remanded her to June 27.

Mapiye ordered the State to secure the attendance of their witnesses to ensure that the trial starts as scheduled.

Manangazira is charged with criminal abuse of office as a public officer after she allegedly flouted tender procedures and bought US$280 529 worth of goods and services and allegedly diverted diesel coupons for 3 290 litres to private vehicles.

She was one of the top officials in the fight against Covid-19 during the time she allegedly committed the offences.

Manangazira is being represented by lawyer Garikayi Mhishi.

According to the State, Manangazira allegedly criminally abused aid funds by hiring 28 relatives as community health workers and paying facilitation fees to undeserving Ministry staff.

Further allegations are that she misappropriated US$796 675 availed by the Africa Centre for Disease Control through a Non-Governmental Organisation, the African Field Epidemiology Network, she had requested through her department to recruit, train and deploy 800 community health workers to undertake a Covid-19 awareness programme.

Manangazira is also accused of buying US$295 529 worth of goods and services in 2020 without following tender procedures.

Oscar Madhume appeared for the State.

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