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New twist on Draxgate as NatPharm rejects Drax consignment

State-owned pharmaceutical firm National Pharmaceuticals (NatPharm) has rejected a consignment of drugs that were provided by Drax SAGL International as the drama around the controversial firm continues to unfold.

Drax SAGL is at the heart of an ongoing scandal in which government could have been prejudiced millions of dollars in irregular Covid-19 equipment. The shady deal saw the firing of Health minister Obadiah Moyo.

Drax had entered into an agreement with Government for the supply and delivery of medicines and consumables at a cost of US$20 million but when it became apparent that the cost of the equipment was inflated, the government then cancelled the deal landing several people in hot soup.

The cancellation of the deal culminated in the arrest of Drax SAGL International’s Zimbabwean representative Delish Nguwaya but the company has since challenged the cancellation of its contract citing plans to seek arbitration in London.

Now Drax and Natpharm are headed for another showdown following revelations that Drax had already placed an order for the drugs before its contract was controversially terminated.

Well-placed sources close to the developments said a part of the consignment worth millions was received last week but NatPharm refused to accept the drugs citing that they did not have an existing contract with Drax SGL.

“The consignment was received last week but NatPharm rejected it but it’s unfortunate some of the drugs are perishable and the two companies are headed for a showdown. There is an argument that Drax had already made an order of the drugs when the contract was signed and therefore NatPharm had an obligation to receive the drugs,” the source said.

NatPharm acting Managing Director Zealous Nyabadza confirmed.

“I can confirm we refused to accept the drugs from Drax SGL International because of the hanging legal issues. We will be in a position to provide further information once legal issues are finalised,”  Nyabadza said.

Drax SGL International Zimbabwe Representative Nguwaya declined to comment on the matter while Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr  Jasper Chimedza was also not picking calls when contacted for comment.

Drax SAGL International has challenged the cancellation of its medical supplies contract by Government and plans to seek arbitration in London on the basis that there might be a small typographical error in the cancellation letter.

Three NatPharm executives have since appeared in court facing allegations of approving this US$20 million DRAX SGL International deal to supply and deliver medicines and surgical sundries.

Florah Nancy Sifeku (NatPharm Managing Director), Charles Mwaramba (Operations Manager) and Rolland Mlalazi (Finance Manager) appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts charged with criminal abuse of office.

Allegations are that Sifeku and Mwaramba allegedly disregarded the Permanent Secretary’s directive and went on to award a direct purchase to Drax Consult SAGL, saying there was extreme emergency.

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