President Emmerson Mnangagwa left Harare late Tuesday afternoon heading to neighbouring Mozambique to attend the US Africa summit that begins in Maputo Wednesday.
Mnangagwa was seen off at the Robert Mugabe International Airport by secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda and Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.
Highly placed sources told NewZimbabwe.com that while stricken Vice President Constantino Chiwenga was supposed to be Acting President, Muchinguri-Kashiri is basically in charge.
"She (Muchinguri-Kashiri) has been left in charge. You know VP Chiwenga is indisposed and unable to report for work. That is why for the first time you saw only the Defence Minister seeing off the President.
"In theory VP Chiwenga is Acting President but in reality it's the Defence Minister who has the reins," New Zimbabwe.com heard.
Ailing Chiwenga has been in and out of hospital at home and abroad for the past six months. Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said Chiwenga needed rest and will only be allowed to return for duty once he is fit.
It also emerged that co-Vice President Kembo Mohadi was also out of the country for "treatment" leaving Mnangagwa with little choice.
Mnangagwa will on Thursday also attend a tripartite summit between Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana to discuss the Techbanine Project and inter-regional heavy haul railway hub aimed at creating an international trade route linking the three countries to eastern markets according to officials.
Insiders said Mnangagwa was also supposed to meet a high level delegation from the US probably "the highest since sanctions were imposed on the country in 2001."
"The President was supposed to meet with US President Donald Trump's representatives but the unfolding drama in Sudan has militated against the plan.
"Focus has shifted and in fact the delegation was supposed to fly to Harare. It would have been a diplomatic coup but it seems the US might have consulted with its people in Harare not only limited to the embassy before deciding against the meeting. They are scared of the effects of the optics of such a meeting," said a source close to Mnangagwa.
Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo said there is a new scramble for Africa by the major powers and the US was launching a $60 billion counter facility to the China's Focus on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac).
"You recall that there is been quite a development of the major power starting with China which introduced the $60 billion Focac initiative. The US has also followed with its summit on relations with Africa and is set to launch its own $60 billion facility. But the President is going to Mozambique at the invitation of his counterpart President Philipe Nyusi," said Moyo seemingly admitting the Zanu PF leader may not have been part of initial plan.