There are unconfirmed reports that Zimbabwe Vice President Rtd Gen Chiwenga has been airlifted to China this evening as his condition deteriorated.
This was revealed by the usually reliable Children of Zimbabwe War Veterans Association Platform via Twitter.
Said COZWVA, “Zimbabwe Vice President Rtd Gen Chiwenga has been airlifted to China this evening as his condition deteriorated.”
It is highly unlikely that Chiwenga has been airlifted to China considering that he is the one who announced that the government will no longer avail foreign currency to assist cabinet ministers and other senior officials seek medical treatment in state-of-the-art health facilities outside Zimbabwe.
Speaking in his capacity as Health Minister Monday, Chiwenga told the media that the state had stopped footing the medical bills of all senior government officials in order to maintain the national medical bill.
He also promised to improve conditions of service for public health workers who have been on strike demanding better salaries and working conditions.
“We will not export our patients. We will not make referrals to our patients. It is everybody, ministers. Those who have been going out it is you and me. Is it not it? Altogether but that export bill was too high and that is what we want to do away with,” he said.
“Zimbabwe has a national medical bill that is high. It is, therefore, imperative that the country develops a method of containing the import bill through health care innovations for import substitution.
“This entails inverting the import bill burden into export receipts either in part or most importantly in the whole. This will improve the funding of the national health care system.
“We will have hospitals that will specialise in different treatment services across the country. We are restructuring from the village health worker right up to the top hospital.”
Senior government officials including Mnangagwa and his two vice-presidents, Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi are well-known for travelling outside the country to receive treatment following years of neglect of the Zimbabwe public system.
During Zanu PF’s factional fights in 2017, Mnangagwa was airlifted to South Africa, following reports he was “poisoned” at the ruling party’s rally in Gwanda.
Chiwenga this year used a chartered flight several times to travel to China for medical check-ups as he battles chronic ailment that has seen him in and out of the hospital.
Mohadi and Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri were in 2018 also airlifted to South Africa to receive treatment for injuries sustained during a bomb blast at a Zanu campaign rally in Bulawayo.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week ordered Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga to take a rest after the former army general appeared overwhelmed due to overworking and losing relatives to COVID-19.
This was revealed by Presidential spokesperson George Charamba while explaining why the Acting President was conspicuous by his absence at the burial of the late Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba and liberation icon Morton Malianga at the National Heroes’ Acre on Thursday.
Charamba said Chiwenga, who is also Health minister and his colleague Vice-President Kembo Mohadi were not battling COVID-19, but resting with Mohadi at his Beitbridge farm and likely to resume official duties soon.
“As for Vice-President Chiwenga, I can only say just as well rumours don’t kill. If they did, the man would long have joined his ancestors,” Charamba said.
“Beyond taking over as Acting President while the President is on his traditional annual leave, which this year has proved more of technical fixture than a real break, the Vice-President has been working well into the early hours of most of the days, both in his Office and at home.”
He said Chiwenga’s overworking has been made worse by the demise of a few of his relatives and associates.
“Made worse by a few of his relatives and associates who have succumbed to COVID-19, alongside many other Zimbabweans A few days ago, he looked worse for wear and the President ordered him to take some deserved rest,” Charamba added.
The rest, however, came two days before he had assumed the role of Acting President, taking over from Mohadi.
“He would have wanted to be with the President at yesterday’s sorrowful burial event, in fact insisted to do so. The President restated his order and the Vice-President had to watch proceedings from home. He will resume work shortly…,” Charamba added.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday said the ruling party was working tirelessly to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and blasted opposition MDC Alliance vice-president Tendai Biti for blaming them for the pandemic. He said a wartime approach needed to be taken in the fight against COVID-19.
“A wartime approach needs to be applied in battling this deadly pandemic. That is indeed the way to go,” he said.