Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi have been flown to India and South Africa respectively as they battle failing health, ZimLive can reveal.
Chiwenga was forced to prematurely abandon his treatment in South Africa earlier this week following public protests. After attending a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday where he looked gaunt and pale, he told the state broadcaster ZBC that he was well, and accused the media of wishing him dead.
The retired army general has publicly said he was poisoned in 2017, while leading a military coup that ousted former President Robert Mugabe. A presidential spokesman however said in October last year – following Chiwenga’s lengthy treatment in Pretoria – that he was “exhausted” after working for years without leave and “had a bullet lodged in his lungs from the war period” 40 years ago.
Mohadi, meanwhile, had been in and out of hospital with an undisclosed ailment before he was caught by an exploding grenade at a Zanu PF rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo last June. He suffered leg injuries which have compelled him to use a crutch to support his right leg.
Impeccable government sources told ZimLive that Mohadi is expected in the country on Friday morning, just hours before President Emmerson Mnangagwa flies to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia for an African Union summit.
Mohadi will be Acting President in Mnangagwa’s absence.
Chiwenga, meanwhile, was flown by private jet to India, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Health John Mangwiro.
Chiwenga attended Cabinet on Tuesday after which he declared that he was in good health, but a video of him speaking to the ZBC, shared widely on social media, only served to heighten concerns about his health.
In recent public appearances, Chiwenga has looked agitated and sweaty. The top of his hands have been patched with bandages, which medical experts said pointed to on-going treatment with injections.
On Wednesday, Chiwenga missed a Zanu PF politburo meeting in the morning. Later in the day when Mnangagwa met his former election rivals for talks aimed at defusing political tensions and building a united front in a desperate push to revive the economy, Chiwenga was conspicuous by his absence. Mohadi attended.
The latest health troubles afflicting the country’s top leadership, and President Mnangagwa’s growing predilection for foreign travel, could not have come at a worse moment with the country’s economy tanking as international condemnation of the government’s handling of fuel protests last month rings out of Western capitals.
Ahead of his Ethiopian trip, Mnangagwa sent emissaries around Africa to give the government’s version of a brutal crackdown on protests by security forces which has left at least 17 people dead. The envoys have spread out to countries like Egypt, Kenya, Zambia and South Africa as Mnangagwa seeks to pre-empt any criticism in Addis Ababa.
The government turned down requests for a comment.