President Emmerson Mnangagwa has cut short his annual leave after ordering his deputy and Acting President Constantino Chiwenga to take a rest, an official said.
Chiwenga, who has undergone extensive treatment in India, South Africa and China over the last two years was “worse for wear” during a recent meeting with Mnangagwa, which prompted his side-lining, according to George Charamba, the spokesman for the presidency.
Charamba, speaking to ZimLive, denied media reports that Chiwenga – who doubles up as health minister – had been flown to China.
In a series of tweets responding to weekend reports that the government had been paralysed by Covid-19, with Mnangagwa being forced to self-isolate and his two deputies both ill with the virus, Charamba dismissed the reports as “needless speculation.”
Mnangagwa, he said, “has never, is yet, to isolate on account of exposure to the coronavirus,” Charamba said. Four ministers have died from the virus, the latest being transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza.
“Vice President Kembo Mohadi took his annual leave soon after his term as Acting President ended. He is very much around and well enough to sit musingly watching his lovely herd,” Charamba tweeted, adding that Mohadi was at his farm in Beitbridge.
“As for Vice President Chiwenga, I can only say just as well rumours don’t kill. It they did, the man would long have joined his ancestors! 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.”
Charamba said Chiwenga’s busy work schedule had been “made worse by a few of his relatives and associates who have succumbed to Covid-19,” adding: “A few days ago, he looked worse for wear and the President ordered him to take some deserved rest. He would have wanted to be with the President at Thursday’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.”
Charamba said Chiwenga would “resume work shortly.”
Responding to ZimLive enquiries over reports that the 64-year-old had been flown to China for treatment, Charamba said tersely: “No truth, not an iota.”
Chiwenga’s ailment has never been publicly disclosed, but numerous media reports suggest he was treated for esophageal stricture, the abnormal narrowing of the esophagus which causes patients difficulties in swallowing and leads to dramatic weight loss. www.chaosafrica.com