The trial of former Health and Child Care Minister, David Parirenyatwa, on charges of criminal abuse of office is expected to resume next month at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.

His trial failed to resume on Monday after the presiding magistrate did not turn up.

Court officials said magistrate Elijah Makomo failed to turn up in court to hear the case owing to poor health and the trial was therefore further delayed until April 23.

Sometime in 2018, Parirenyatwa was arrested by detectives from the Serious Fraud Squad on charges of criminal abuse of office.

At the time, the trial had to be postponed due to the absence of presiding magistrate Makomo, with prosecutor Brian Vito sought an adjournment to 17 July 2020 before Trynos Utahwashe.

The trial was then further postponed to December 18, 2020 because of the continued absence of presiding magistrate Makomo.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Bianca Makwande warned the State that if the trial does not open on that date, she will consider the defence application for refusal of further remand.

The allegations are that Parirenyatwa abused his position by directing NatPharm chairman George Washaya to terminate the contract of Flora Sifeku as managing director, allegedly to allow Newman Madzikwa to take over.

He had been fired in September 2009 as NatPharm’s Masvingo branch manager for reportedly selling donated drugs. The board complied with Parirenyatwa’s directive and gave both Sifeku and Madzikwa six months’ contracts as managing directors.

This is alleged to have created double expenditure of NatPharm funds as the company was paying two salaries towards the managing director’s position, thereby prejudicing it of a total of $30 006.

The State alleges that Parirenyatwa’s actions were prejudicial to the good administration of NatPharm and the Ministry of Health and Child Care.