5 February 2019

Zimbabwe: 'Ailing' Chiwenga Back in Zim, Attends Cabinet Meeting

Photo: Memory Mangombe/The Herald
President Emmerson Mnangagwa flanked by Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga, right, and Kembo Mohadi (file photo).

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is back in the country and attended Tuesday's Cabinet session, New Zimbabwe.com has learnt.

State media published pictures of Chiwenga seated next to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his other deputy Kembo Mohadi in the Cabinet room.

"Vice President Retired General Dr Constantino Chiwenga attended today's Cabinet meeting, together with VP Kembo Mohadi, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Chief secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda," a caption to the picture said on State broadcaster ZBC's website.

Chiwenga was reportedly airlifted to South Africa late last week after a health scare during a politburo meeting in Harare amid claims he was in "bad shape".

Government refused to comment but authorities in South Africa were forced to issue a statement denying the vice president was being treated at Cape Town's Groot Schuur Hospital following wild cate protests by a small group of Zimbabweans.

South Africa's Western Cape Health Department said Chiwenga was not being treated there.

"Western Cape Health Department confirms Zimbabwe's Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga is not being treated at Cape Town's Groote Schuur Hospital," SAfm radio revealed on Twitter Monday.

"A group of Zimbabwean nationals are protesting outside the hospital, calling for Chiwenga to go back home to receive treatment there."

The demonstrators demanded that the vice president returns home to be treated in the same run-down state hospitals his government forcing Zimbabweans to rely on.

They said Chiwenga is part of a government which has presided over the collapse of the country's health sector which was recently hit by a two-month strike by doctors complaining about the lack of drugs and power conditions.

Said lobby group Citizens Forum Zimbabwe; "We must help our people by telling Chiwenga to go back home and get treated at Parirenyatwa like the rest of us!"

Those who visited the hospital as part of the demonstration included comedian the Comic Pastor.

And concerned about the disruption protest was causing, the Western Cape Health Department issued a statement Monday confirming the at Chiwenga was not admitted at the hospital.

A statement attributed the department's communications officer, called on the protestors to direct their demands at Zimbabwean authorities.

"In honour of our commitment to patient confidentiality, we cannot discuss patient details. however, we can confirm that he was not or currently is a patient at the hospital," read the statement.

"While we understand the concern of the Zimbabwean community, we need to balance this with the rights of other patients to receive care.

"We urge the community to direct their requests to the Zimbabwean authorities and to respect our hospital premises as a healing environment for patients.

"Health staff should be given the space to continue uninterrupted with their patient care."

Chiwenga was head of the military when the long-serving president Robert Mugabe was toppled by a coup in November 2017.

The vice president and his wife, Mary, have however, have been showing signs of illness, with visibly swollen hands and discoloured skin patches, something he said was due to poisoning.

Chiwenga appeared agitated and angrily fidgety in recent public appearances, raising fears about his health, added the report.

Last year, Chiwenga suggested he was paying the price for removing former President Robert Mugabe, triggering speculation he might have been poisoned.

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