Johannesburg – A Covid-19 supplies corruption scandal has erupted in Zimbabwe, placing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bodyguard and his son at the centre of graft allegations.
Zimbabwe’s coronavirus numbers have spiked to 172 cases with most infections being returnees from South Africa.
Fourteen cases tested positive for Covid19 on Monday. From those, five cases were from South Africa, one from Botswana and the United Kingdom, and the seven other cases were local transmissions.
“The seven local cases being reported and the two mentioned are contacts of known confirmed cases,” said the ministry.
Mnangagwa’s son, Collins, is embroiled in a R17m ($1m) personal protective equipment (PPE) dispute while the president’s top bodyguard, Valdano Brown, won lucrative contracts to supply Covid-19 equipment to the ministry of health without going through a competitive bidding process.
Both Collins and Brown have been linked to foreign registers firms, Drax International in Dubai and Jaji Investment in Namibia.
The two companies allegedly belong to a group of firms believed to be connected to Zimbabwe’s first family which have scored contracts with the government during the virus outbreak.
The corruption storm involving Mnangagwa Jnr erupted over the weekend with reports suggesting that through a Dubai registered firm, Drax International, he pocketed nearly R17 million (US$1m) after being contracted to supply the government with inflated coronavirus fighting equipment.
In the saga, Collins and Delish Nguwaya, an operative behind Drax International, feature prominently in the alleged deal.
When details emerged pointing to Collins’ alleged involvement in the illicit deals, he quickly distanced himself from the company saying he was not in any way connected with Nguwaya.
“I am not a member of the said organisation and I have no shared or interests in their transaction with any Drax International’s representative including Delish Nguwaya,” said Collins in a statement.
This is the second time in a month the president’s son has been accused of abuse of power for personal benefit.
Sandton-based Zimbabwe millionaire, Frank Buyanga, claimed last month that the “first family is a criminal cabal.”
Buyanga wrote to the Judicial Service Commission registering his displeasure over what he said was the first family’s interference with a child custody wrangle he is currently involved in with his ex, Chantelle Muteswa.
In the letter, Buyanga called some members of the First Family a “disruptive cabal of criminals”.
Wrote the businessman then: “Over the past week, a close companion to the Mnangagwa Family Delish Nguwaya has been communicating with Justice Manzunzu, Mallan Zorodzi Chiswa who also has links to the Muteswa family has also been communicating with Justice Manzunzu.”
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and Alex Magaisa, a political commentator, have also weighed in on the saga.
“Long before this saga, the name Delish Nguwaya had already been associated with Collins Mnangagwa.
Businessman Frank Buyanga named Nguwaya as a close companion to the Mnangagwa family in a complaint submitted to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) over a child custody wrangle,” said Magaisa.