NatPharm MD up for criminal abuse of office

HARARE - The acting managing director at National Pharmaceuticals (NatPharm) appeared in court yesterday facing charges of abuse of office.

The State alleges Newman Batanai Madzikwa, 40, allegedly hiked drug handling fees by 11 percent and corruptly awarded a $10 million tender to a Danish medicines’ supplier.

He allegedly committed the offence barely three months after former Health minister David Parirenyatwa had moved him from the ministry to the top brass of NatPharm.

Parirenyatwa has a pending criminal abuse of duty charge before the same court as a result of that action.

Madzikwa is currently out on $200 bail. When he appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa, he requested for his reporting conditions to be temporarily suspended until October 5 to enable him to attend a workshop.

The application was granted.

Madzikwa was the acting managing director of NatPharm — a parastatal responsible for supplying medicines to public and private health centres. The State said there was a standing regulation for a four percent handling fee for all medical products delivered to the Health ministry.

When there is need for price variations, consultations are supposed to be made with NatPharm management committee and board, which recommends and seeks approval with the ministry.

The court heard that once parties reach an agreement, a new levy is charged beginning on an agreed date.

However, it was alleged that contrary to set regulations, Madzikwa — in his capacity as managing director — allegedly instructed his financial manager Roland Mlalazi in a management meeting on September 3 to effect a hike in the handling fee from four percent to 15 percent.

Mlalazi then wrote a letter to Information Technology manager Zealous Nyabadza for NatPharm to effect the price hike. The letter was dated September 1.

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