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Zimbabwe Health Minister Detained on Corruption Charges

FILE - Health Minister Obediah Moyo speaks to journalists in Harare, March 5, 2020.

Zimbabwe's health minister was released from police custody Saturday on about $600 bail after being arrested the day before on corruption charges related to the illegal procurement of COVID-19 medical equipment.

James Mutizwa, the attorney for Health Minister Obediah Moyo, told journalists Saturday outside Magistrate Court in Harare, "Bail was granted. He is out on bail. No comment. Thank you.”

Moyo is facing three counts of criminal abuse of office as a public official in relation to the procurement of material worth $60 million to fight COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.

Following the arrest, a doctors group said it was worried about the abuse of COVID-19 funds.

Dr. Nyika Mahachi, the president of Zimbabwe College of Public Health Physicians, said, "This is an unfortunate development. As an apolitical association, it is our interest in public health to ensure that resources that are allocated for COVID-19 response, health services or public services in general are used in a transparent and fair manner. ... What we look forward to is a full understanding of the investigation of what really transpired to ensure that the culprits are brought to book, whoever they are.”

Since coming to power in 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said he is committed to fighting corruption, which was associated with senior officials of the government of his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe.

Information Ministry Secretary Nick Mangwana issued a statement Saturday saying, “The biggest mistake I can ever make as a public officer is to doubt President Mnangagwa’s commitment to fighting graft. He has made it clear to us that we are not immune from prosecution and nobody will be insulated from having their day in court.”

Moyo is expected back in court this month, when he could get a trial date.