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Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa appoints soldier as health ministry permanent secretary

HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday reacted to criticism over his handling of the Covid-19 crisis in Zimbabwe by appointing a soldier as new permanent secretary in the health ministry.

Military doctor Air Commodore Jasper Chimedza joined the army in 1996, rising to become the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ director general of health services.

Cabinet secretary Misheck Sibanda said Chimedza is expected to “refocus nation’s health delivery services in order to enhance innovation, integrity, transparency, efficiency and vibrant stakeholder participation as the country fights the war against the Covid-10 pandemic.”

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Zimbabwe is facing its worst health crisis since the disease was first detected in the country on March 20, with a sharp increase in new transmissions and deaths.

With doctors and nurses on strike, Zimbabwe had gone without a health secretary since May when Agnes Mahomva was shunted out following repeated clashes with the former health minister Obadiah Moyo, who would later be arrested after ZimLive exposed million-dollar Covid-19 procurement corruption in his ministry.

Not only has Zimbabwe been operating without the a minister and permanent secretary but NatPharm, the government’s main procurement company for drugs and health devices, is without a CEO and other top managers after they were suspended over their role in a dodgy US$60 million tender awarded to a company fronted by Delish Nguwaya, a business associate of Mnangagwa’s twin sons Shaun and Collins.

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The MDC Alliance last week warned of a “slow genocide” in Zimbabwean hospitals which have been abandoned by nurses and doctors.

“The combination of Covid-19 with a very cold winter and a hungry population that doesn’t have jobs and food has seen the emergence in Zimbabwe of a slow genocide. The death rate, the mortality rates have just shot up,” MDC Alliance deputy president Tendai Biti told a news conference.

“We fear pandemonium. The crisis in Zimbabwe is one of a leadership question. Why has Mnangagwa failed to appoint a substantive minister of health after firing Obadiah Moyo? Why has he failed to appoint a permanent secretary in the ministry of health?”

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