FORMER Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of criminal abuse of office.

Parirenyatwa filed the plea in response to charges of interfering with and prejudicing the National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NatPharm) of $15 003.

The State also alleges he acted contrary to his duties as a public officer by directing NatPharm board chairperson George Washaya to end Flora Nancy Sifeku’s contract with the organisation as managing director.

Parirenyatwa then effected the transfer of Newman Madzikwa from his ministry to Natpharm to replace Sifeku as suggested by his letter on clear instructions and in compliance with said ministry directives and recommendations.

The court heard that by that action, which also saw Sifeku being moved to the ministry of Health, Parirenyatwa showed disfavour to her.

In his opening statement to the court, Parirenyatwa’ defence team of Makiya and Partners justified the letter to appoint Madzikwa as the NatPharm managing director was in line with the ministry’s action plan.

“The letter was in compliance with objectives contained in the Health ministry 100-day action plan which was formally approved at said ministry and presented for approval to government’s cabinet prior to transmission of said letter by accused to Natpharm

“On June 4, 2018 in terms of the Health ministry decisions effected at ministry level, and communicated and confirmed through the said ministry secretary Gerald Gwinji and backed up by the said ministry to effect changes at NatPharm company from the ministry that he as the relevant ministry head effect and transmit communication of June 4 2018 to Washaya, Natpharm chairperson  said recommendations for effecting changes were done at ministry level in late May 2018 and the accused’s confirmation by letter was giving effect to a ministry decision only,” Parirenyatwa said.

The ex-minister told the court the benefits and salary payments to Madzikwa and Sikefu were on the direction of ministry decisions for the redeployment of those concerned, and were the proper acceptable remuneration packages.

Parirenyatwa’s trial last year failed to commence due to unavailability of his lawyer.

The ex-minister had previously made a High Court application seeking an order to stop his prosecution, arguing the charges levelled against him were fabricated.zimsituation