Zimbabwe’s former health minister Obadiah Moyo is a free man after the High Court dismissed charges against him. The minister had been accused of unlawfully and without following the proper procedure giving a US$60 million tender to a company known as Drax International. Drax went on to sell drugs and personal protective equipment (PPE) at inflated prices.

In their case, the state had argued that Moyou had worked to influence the awarding of the tender to Drax international. The tender to Drax had not been approved by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe. He also faced charges such as criminal abuse of office.

High Court Judge Justice Kwenda dismissed the charges against Obadiah Moyo saying his acts as presented by the prosecution did not constitute an offence. This has the public incensed and angry over an established pattern of catch and release.

It appears that whenever a bigwig is caught in a corruption dragnet their case follows a very familiar turn of events. First, they are demonised in state media before they are arrested. At first, the state might oppose their bail but once the case has been ongoing for a few weeks the state meekly agrees to bail. The prosecution goes on to put up the most anaemic performance possible making school-boy errors that force judges to dismiss the corruption case on a technicality.

In comparison cases involving members of the opposition or people who are not politically exposed are pursued with unfailing zeal. Sometimes these people stay in jail for prolonged periods of time without trial. Their bail conditions are often very strict and can be revoked by the police for the most flimsiest of reasons.

All this has led the public to conclude that the government is not serious when it comes to stamping out corruption. They now refer to the dog and pony show of arresting high officials and later releasing them as “Catch and release.” Sometimes those involved are so brazen they even go to sue the government for damages and actually get paid for their seemingly corrupt acts.

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