On Saturday, Zimbabwe’s health minister was expected to appear in the court to face allegations of illegally awarding a multi-million-dollar contract for COVID-19 testing kits, drugs and personal protective equipment to a shadowy company.
The country’s anti-corruption agency arrested Obadiah Moyo on Friday as the scandal roiled the country and played out on social media, where some local journalists exposed how Moyo allegedly chose the shadowy company to sell medical supplies to the government at inflated prices that included face masks for $28 each.
The government cancelled the contracts following public uproar. The minister on Saturday appeared before a court in the capital Harare and was released on a bail of $50,000. Prosecution reportedly did not oppose bail for the embattled minister.
The scandal came in the limelight when the health professionals including nurses and doctors in Zimbabwe were on strike demanding to be paid their salaries in U.S. dollars. They argue that inflation that is now above 750% and the erosion of the value of local currency have rendered incomes worthless. Most traders charge for their goods in U.S. dollars in the southern African country that has long faced economic collapse.
The health professionals have also complained about lack of adequate protective gear as the number of coronavirus cases rises.