HARARE – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo are admitted at top South African hospitals where they are said to be in bad shape, the Daily News is reliably informed.
The two highly-trained former military men were the face of the November 2017 army operation that led to the dramatic ouster of Robert Mugabe after 37 years of iron-fisted rule.
Code-named Operation Restore Legacy, the soft coup saw Mugabe’s long time confidante-turned-foe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, emerge from the political Siberia to take up the high-pressure job at Munhumutapa Building.
Mnangagwa, aged 75, went on to appoint Chiwenga — who was the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) at the time of the military intervention — as one of his two vice presidents (VPs).
Moyo — who had acted as the army’s spokesperson during the month-long military operation — was catapulted from the barracks to land the top post in the ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Daily News is reliably informed that while the officialdom is keeping Chiwenga and Moyo’s ill-health a closely-guarded secret, the top government officials were airlifted to the neighbouring country for further treatment after their conditions deteriorated.
Deputy Information minister Energy Mutodi could neither deny nor confirm that the former military chefs were receiving medical attention in South Africa saying the matter was under the purview of the Office of the President and Cabinet.
“That is not an issue for this ministry because everything to do with the presidium, that is including the two VPs is communicated by George Charamba. He is the right person to talk about that,” Mutodi said.
Zanu PF’s information tsar Simon Khaya Moyo was also non-committal, referring questions to Charamba as well.
“I know nothing about that because I haven’t been informed. That information can only be obtained from the President’s Office, so talk to George,” Khaya Moyo said.
Charamba was not immediately available for comment as his phone went unanswered.
He also did not respond to a text message sent to his phone.
While not much is known about Moyo’s illness, Chiwenga and his wife, Mary, have been battling a rare skin disease that manifests in swollen hands and feet. They have also lost their skin pigmentation.
In May, the former ZDF commander revealed that the condition started when he led a military coup against Mugabe, and that they had been to doctors who told them they could not diagnose what was afflicting them. In the end, Chiwenga said they had turned to traditional herbs recommended by a Catholic nun.
Chiwenga’s wife was also unfortunate after she got injured in June this year in a bomb blast at a rally held at White City Stadium in Bulawayo, described by government as an attempt on the life of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was the star attraction at the event.
On October 2, the Daily News revealed that Chiwenga abruptly left a Cabinet meeting after falling seriously under the weather with an undisclosed ailment and was rushed to a local in the capital Harare later that night.
Highly-placed government sources had confided in the paper that although Mnangagwa’s second-in-command managed to attend the Zanu PF politburo meeting a day later, his health together with that of his wife continued to deteriorate at a rate relatives felt needed attention in South Africa.
This comes at a time Zimbabweans have expressed anger at top government officials who shun local health facilities preferring top-notch foreign hospitals.
Vice President Kembo Mohadi and minister of Defence Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri sought treatment in neighbouring South Africa in June this year after they also sustained injuries following the White City Stadium bomb explosion.
Even Mugabe prefers to be treated in Singapore where he has been making frequent visits even during his reign and on taxpayers’ money.
The decline of the health delivery system can be traced back to more than two decades ago.
The country’s health delivery system is on the verge of total collapse with locals still dying of mediaeval diseases such as cholera following decades of underfunding and mismanagement by government.
Only recently, over 50 people lost their lives due to a cholera outbreak in Harare and some other parts of the country owing to a critical shortage of requisite medical equipment and drugs in hospitals and pharmacies around the country.
The economic meltdown that has also characterised the country in recent years has seen thousands of medical practitioners leave the country in search of greener pastures in the region and abroad.