HARARE – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has purged some of his security aides and banned his wife from visiting him.
Chiwenga, hospitalised in China over suspected poisoning, ordered his wife, Mary, to return home and also sacked two security aides from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) whom he accused of spying on him.
Mary legally married Chiwenga during a secret ceremony in June, just days before the former army general, who has been battling ill-health for over a year, relapsed and was flown to South Africa before being transferred to China.
But family friends say the marriage is on the rocks. Chiwenga has told his Chinese hosts not to issue a visa to the former model.
Chiwenga has also stripped his security to just two military aides with the rest seconded by the Chinese government, the Zimbabwe Independent reports.
“He believed they (CIO aides) were giving updates to his political rivals, including President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa about his progress,” a source told the paper.
Chiwenga was treated in India and South Africa before he was finally airlifted to China where he is admitted to a top military hospital. Reports say he was admitted with oesophageal motility disorder, and has since undergone two operations.
One report says he has been fitted with an artificial oesophagus and told by his doctors to retire from politics.
According to the Zimbabwe Independent, he is now able to walk and has substantially gained weight from a low of 50kg to about 80kg.
A family friend who asked not to be named told ZimLive: “It should be understood that very little is coming out from China. It however appears that the decision to limit the information that is shared, and restricting the number of people who can see him, was taken in consultation with Chinese authorities.
“One can only imagine this is linked to suspicions of poisoning. Until the source of the poison is established, access to him will be very limited, and it appears even his wife – for now at least – is not trusted. When you are gravely ill, it’s a natural expectation that your spouse should be around, but not so in this case and that’s not normal.”
In August, Chiwenga’s wife shared an undated picture of herself with Chiwenga on social media. It later emerged that it was an old image.
Mary was guest of honour last week when residents of Borrowdale Brooke in Harare commissioned a sewage treatment plant.
Chiwenga was the army general who led the coup that ousted former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017 after conspiring with Mnangagwa. But the two men quickly fell out in a contest for authority: Mnangagwa seeking to dilute Chiwenga’s influence over the military and Chiwenga seeking to position his lieutenants in key position in the government and Zanu PF party.
Chiwenga’s poor health has left his supporters without a captain, and handed the initiative to Mnangagwa whose supporters are now openly backing him to lead the party into the next election.-Zimlive