SAMA Annual Conference 2024

Zwelethu Bashman

Mr Zweli Bashman currently serves as the Managing Director of MSD South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa. He joined MSD on 1 January 2020 as Director for the HIV & Vaccines business. Successes during his tenure as HIV & Vaccines Director included the signing of voluntary license agreements with low-cost manufacturing partners to allow the marketing of generic versions of MSD’s HIV medication, expanding access to treatment for people living with HIV and Aids in Africa. Zweli transitioned into the MD role in February 2021 and is primarily focused on addressing unmet healthcare needs on the continent, building sustainable and resilient health systems as well as finding innovative financial mechanisms that will broaden access to innovative healthcare on the continent.

Prior to joining MSD, Zweli held various roles within the pharmaceuticals sector. He started his career in the industry at Schering-Plough in 2006, where he worked in sales and product management. His commercial experience grew at Adcock Ingram, where he led several commercial operations including HIV, Cardiovascular/CNS/Dermatology as well as Hospital Fluids. Between 2017 and 2019, Zweli expanded his responsibilities and relocated to Tanzania where he led the key account operations for Cipla Pharmaceuticals across Sub-Saharan Africa. Thereafter he joined Merck Biopharma as Head of Marketing for all English & Portuguese speaking African countries. 

Zweli is a multi-faceted leader, known across the industry for being inclusive, flexible, and accessible. Outside of MSD, Zweli Bashman, serves as Vice-Chairperson of the US-South Africa Business Council, President of the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa (IPASA), and Deputy Chairperson of the Pharmaceutical Task Group (PTG). His experience and leadership have enabled MSD to support various health systems strengthening initiatives across the region, including the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (PHEPR) Leadership training aimed at government and public health leaders. PHEPR was inspired by lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and is a collaborative initiative between MSD, AMREF, and CDC Africa.

Zweli is the recipient of the 2023 Fortyunder40 award in the Pharmaceutical and Health category for being a professional innovator, an industry disruptor and leader.