President Emmerson Mnangagwa says Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was recovering in South Africa after being airlifted there for urgent treatment due to a persistent illness that has dogged him for several months now.
Addressing a Zanu PF women’s league national assembly meeting in Harare yesterday, Mnangagwa said Chiwenga fell sick weeks after his return from treatment in India in May and had to seek medical assistance in South Africa.
“Our Vice-President Cde Chiwenga is not well. He went to India for medical check-up and stayed there for a while. He returned home and reported for duty for some days, but he fell ill again and we had to send him to South Africa,” Mnangagwa said.
“He was very ill, but I am glad to let you know that he has improved in the past days. I talk to him almost on a daily basis and as when he is free. I am happy to know that he is now doing exercises on his own.”
The VP has been in and out of hospital in recent months and has visited India at least twice this year for medical attention. Informed government sources said Chiwenga was consulting oesophageal surgeons.
He was believed to have had difficulties eating and this was blamed for his dramatic weight loss.
Government spin doctors back then indicated that Chiwenga had gone to India for a minor surgery coupled with routine medical check-ups, but did not disclose his ailment.
Speculation was rife that the November 2017 coup architect was on his “death bed”.
Chiwenga has, for the duration of his illness, been billed to officiate at various government events, including yesterday where he was expected to make an address at the Zanu PF women’s assembly meeting together with his counterpart Kembo Mohadi and party chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.
Yesterday, Mohadi and Muchinguri-Kashiri were absent, but Mnangagwa did not disclose to party supporters their whereabouts.
Mnangagwa announced plans to amend the Constitution to extend the lifespan of the 60 proportional representation seats for MPs in the National Assembly by 10 more years in order to increase women participation in national politics.
“We are going to start the process of amending that. We have the two-thirds majority that we need. So, we are going to do that,” he said.
Mnangagwa also urged party supporters to be alert to “divisive” elements within Zanu PF, who he said were trying to manipulate the structures for their selfish ends. Mnangagwa said the party should not glorify individuals ahead of institutions.