Senior Court Reporter
A PARIRENYATWA Group of Hospitals’ pharmacy stores controller has appeared at Harare Magistrates’ Courts facing charges of receiving a bribe to offer a certain company a tender of supplying medical sutures to the referral hospital.
Russell Tatenda Mwenye (40) used the proceeds from the criminal enterprise to build a house in Ruwa.
The country’s largest referral hospital is said to have lost US$500 000 and more than $600 000 after Mwenye allegedly flouted the tender procedures and offered Silksilver Investments (Pvt) Ltd the tender to supply the medical sutures on many occasions.
Mwenye, who was being represented by Mr Oscar Gasva of Mbano Gasva and Partners, is being charged with criminal abuse of office as a public officer, bribery and money laundering.
He denied all charges when he appeared before magistrate Mr Christopher Maturure.
Mr Gasva, told the court in Mwenye’s defence that he never awarded any tender to Silksilver Investment and that he did not know who instructed the firm to deliver medical sutures to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.
He said it was not part of his job to award tenders.
“His role was to simply raise a request for restocking, which request would have been done on behalf of the chief pharmacist, who would approve of the same as officially he was the head of the department and responsible for all the stock and restocking of pharmacy stores,” said Mr Gasva.
“The accused further denies that he instructed one Yvonne Mudimu to receive the consignment from Silksilver Investment and distribute it to users.”
Mwenye told the court that the consignment was yet to be used by the hospital when the allegations against him arose and the chief pharmacist was told to return the items, but went ahead to distribute the same.
He said the allegations arose as a result of bad working relations between him and his colleagues.
“I never received a bribe, kickbacks or any consideration from that company,” said Mwenye.
“These allegations arose as a result of the bad working relationship which existed between me and chief pharmacist Davison Nyasha Vuraga, chief buyer Costan Zvoushe and operation director Edson Mundenda, who felt I was too principled and strictly adhered to procedure to the frustration of their corrupt interests, hence the malicious allegations.”
Mwenye denied building his house in Ruwa using money from a bribe, saying it was proceeds from his farming activities and business money sent by his business partner in the Diaspora.
The court was told that in March 2016, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals advertised a tender requesting bids for the supply and delivery of surgical sutures.
After the hospital’s tender committee carried out due processes, it awarded the tender to Flancon Investments (Pvt) Limited, the cheapest of the bidders, who quoted US$37 844.
Order forms were then reportedly raised by the procurement department and forwarded to the pharmacy department for recommendations by Mwenye before they were to be passed to the hospital’s chief pharmacist for approval.
Mwenye allegedly did not action the papers and waited until surgical sutures stocks went critically low, creating unnecessary emergency in the process.
He then assigned Mudimu, a section head in the surgical and sundries department, to make a direct purchase of the sutures from Silksilver Investments for US$86 381 without going to tender.
Silksilver Investments had bid for the tender, but failed to meet the specifications required.
Allegations are that Mwenye abused his office by allowing Silksilver Investments to supply the surgical sutures without following tender procedures and prejudiced Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals of US$48 537.
Prosecutor Mr Ephraim Zinyandu alleged that Mwenye repeatedly awarded Silksilver Investments bids to supply surgical sutures through his company.
Mwenye returns to court on July 27 for trial continuation.