THE return on Saturday of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga from China where he has been on treatment for an undisclosed ailment for over six months has become the subject of much speculation and conspiracies in Zimbabwe.
Social media has generated rumours galore, with users alluding that Chiwenga’s return from the Asian country had exposed the fragile nature of relations between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy.
Many have questioned the conspicuous absence of Mnangagwa and other senior government officials from the Robert Mugabe International Airport to welcome back home Chiwenga following such a long hiatus from the country.
Conspicuouslys absent was also his wife Mary Chiwenga who has been seen in the country while her husband was holed in a Chinese hospital.
“It is clear Chiwenga is an unwelcome visitor following internal squabbles in the ruling Zanu PF’” said a senior official.
“Speculation has been rife that Chiwenga and Mnangagwa fell out amid clashes in how to run the country as well as on appointment of cabinet ministers.
“Following the January protests Zanu PF insiders accused Chiwenga and some military elements of scheming to topple Mnangagwa.
“Chiwenga is also accused of having a soft spot for the youthful opposition leader Nelson Chamisa whom he wanted to be involved in the political dialogue while Mnangagwa has set conditions that Chamisa must concede electoral defeat.”
Sources also said Chiwenga, though he was not a full time politician before the November 2017 military intervention that ushered in the Mnangagwa adminstration, has already built strong structures within the party to upset Mnangagwa.
Does Mnangagwa trusts Chiwenga?
Zanu PF insiders close to both Mnangagwa and Chiwenga have always said the two are very close and have always consulted each other in critical decision making.
While that argument may hold water it remains a fact that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Mnangagwa has worked closely with the ousted leader the late Robert Mugabe but in the end their 52 years old relationship had to end in a bitter way.
“If Chiwenga had ambitions he could have taken over in November 2017 after the military intervened and ousted Mugabe,” another source said.
While those close to Mnangagwa maintain that the two leaders’relations are in good form those routing for Chiwenga question why not even one government official was at the airport to welcome the vice president.
“We expected the ruling party officials, like the national chairperson ( Oppah Muchinguri) to be there and welcome the second in command,” the source said.
But presidential spokesperson George Charamba said on his microblogging site Twitter that there was nothing unusual in the purported absence of Mnangagwa and other prominent persons from the airport to welcome Chiwenga back home from China.
“The President will welcome his Deputy in the appropriate way and setting.
“In the meanwhile, all well-meaning Zimbabweans are happy that Vice President Chiwenga is back and looks fit,” Charamba said.
He also added that it was not part of national or international protocol that presidents or ambassadors were obliged to take time off their schedules to receive vice presidents from wherever they are coming back from.
For the avoidance of doubt, said Charamba, the President and his Vice President were always in communication during all the time Chiwenga was out in China receiving treatment.
— Zim Morning Post