President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced on Sunday Vice President Constantino Chiwenga left Zimbabwe for China for a medical check up and expected to return home “soon” without giving a specific date.

Earlier this year, the former head of the Defence forces spent four months receiving treatment at a Chinese military hospital before his return on November 23.

Speaking at the third annual National Thanksgiving and Dedication Service at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Grounds in Bulawayo, Mnangagwa said: “Our VP, Cde Chiwenga, is in China for medical review. He will be back in the country soon.”

Chiwenga is believed to have been flown out of the country on December 20 after a Dubai-registered private jet which previously flew him on medical flights to India and South Africa was allowed to take off from the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare even as a strike by air traffic controllers was preventing commercial aircraft from landing or taking off.

The 63-year-old former army commander who led the military coup that ousted former leader Robert Mugabe in 2017 caused his wife’s arrest following his return over claims she had tried to kill him at a South African hospital in July before his transfer to China.

Marry Mubaiwa, whose bail application has been postponed to December 31, accuses her estranged husband of fabricating criminal charges against her in order to obtain a divorce through the back door and take custody of their three minor children.

Chiwenga looked healthy and well-groomed on his return from China, a stunning improvement on his last public sighting in May when he was flown to India a second time for treatment following a substantial weight loss and constant swelling on his hands.