Despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa banning government officials from travelling outside the country, his immediate deputy Constantino Chiwenga was airlifted to China as his health woes resurfaced.
The Vice President was airlifted to the coronavirus-hit nation on Sunday after his health took a turn for the worse.
According to online publication, Zimlive.com, Chiwenga left Harare shortly after mid-day Sunday on a Dubai-registered private jet, a Boeing 737-7AK (BBJ), which is regularly used by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The President even uses the same private plane when he is travelling locally.
However, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba downplayed the event saying that it was just a routine medical checkup. Charamba told the publication,
“I can confirm that the vice president left for China for his medical check-up. Obviously, we can’t say how long that will take because that will depend on what experts say. But he is out of the country.”
Chiwenga had not been seen in public for the two weeks leading up to his flight from China. The vice president’s absence from the public eye had sent tongues wagging with some quarters opining that this signalled a major fallout between Chiwenga and Mnangagwa, who have long been speculated to have a tense relationship.
Chiwenga missed the monthly national clean-up exercise on March 6, when he was due to officiate in Mvurwi. This was followed up by the Vice President missing the national field day held at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Pricabe Farm in Kwekwe where he was supposed to be guest of honour. Chiwenga was supposed to be the guest of honour at the event, but this honour was later given to Minister of Defence and War Veterans Oppah Muchinguri.
However, Charamba denied reports on any fallout over the weekended, dismissing the allegations as nonsense. He said that Chiwenga was absent because he was not feeling well and had been ordered to rest by his doctors.
“He was not feeling too well and he wanted a bit of rest. That’s the real issue. Speculation that there’s bad blood between him and the president… is nonsense,” Charamba said.
Vice President Chiwenga spent more than four months in China last year getting treated for an undisclosed ailment which he claimed would have certainly killed him if it was not for the intervention of the Chinese. There was speculation that Chiwenga may have got sick after being poisoned. At one point he was being attended to by medical experts from Zimbabwe, South Africa, India and China.
There has been speculation, that the Vice President was a victim of a poisoning plot, to rule him out of the succession race. Only last month, there were reports that Chiwenga was collapsed in his office and had to be airlifted to South Africa, because of the risk of the deadly coronavirus in China. The fact that Chiwenga has been airlifted to China in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic indicates that he may be facing a medical emergency.