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NatPharm boss jailed for criminal abuse of office

A HARARE magistrate yesterday convicted and sentenced former NatPharm acting managing director Newman Madzikwa to 20 months imprisonment for criminal abuse of office after he ordered the increase of medicine handling fees by 11% without approval of the board.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Madzikwa (41), however, will serve a 14-month effective jail term after Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya suspended six months on condition of good behaviour.

In his ruling, Mujaya said the State led convincing evidence from its witnesses.

“The increase of the handling fee was justifiable (because) the entity was operating at a loss, but it was known that it shouldn’t have been made at that time without the approval of the board,” he ruled.

“The defence suggested that ministerial approval was unnecessary to the increase of the handling charge, which was disproved by one of the State’s star witnesses Dr (George) Washaya, who testified that the ministry has the final say.”

Mujaya further said in the minutes of one of the meetings that were tendered as evidence, Madzikwa suggested a mark-up of handling fees, saying NatPharm would sink if it had not done so.

Madzikwa then later told the finance manager Rowland Mlalazi to enforce increases while the ministry was approving.
The magistrate said Madzikwa believed that it was not going to be picked up by the audit and luckily, it was discovered before implementation.

In mitigating, Madzikwa’s lawyer Harrison Nkomo pleaded for a lenient sentence, saying there was no moral blameworthiness on the part of his client who did not benefit from the offence.

He further asked for a non-custodial sentence, saying his education and work, which he took for almost 19 years as a pharmacist, would come to an end after the conviction.

But in aggravation, special unit prosecutor Zivanai Macharaga said Zimbabwe has a reputation that public officers are immune to justice and urged the court to set the record straight to existing public officers that the court is serious in punishing offenders who engage in corruption.

Source : NewsDay

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