Vice President Constantino Chiwenga was airlifted to a South African hospital on Saturday in what government sources described as a “medical emergency.”
The former army general, who executed a coup that ousted former President Robert Mugabe in November 2017, is being treated at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
There was no official reaction to Chiwenga’s latest medical trip, after he was treated in Johannesburg last October for what a government spokesman later said was “exhaustion” and 1980s injuries from the war of liberation.
“He’s in a terrible shape. His condition sent the entire government into panic,” a top government official said on condition they were not named as they are not authorised to speak to the Press.
Chiwenga and his wife, Mary, have been losing their skin pigmentation, a rare phenomenon he has suggested was caused by poisoning. His recent public appearances, in which he has appeared agitated and angrily fidgety, have raised fears about his health.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was due to resume his “thank you” rallies celebrating his disputed electoral victory with an appearance in Mt Darwin, cancelled his trip and dispatched Vice President Kembo Mohadi to represent him instead.
Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba said the Zanu PF leader had spent the day in his office calling foreign leaders to brief them “on the situation obtaining in the country following opposition-instigated violent demonstrations which affected the country two weeks ago.”
Mnangagwa is under pressure after Britain’s Minister for Africa Harriet Baldwin flew to the region last Thursday to press Zimbabwe’s neighbours to speak up against an ongoing crackdown by security forces which rights groups say has left at least 16 people dead and nearly 600 requiring hospital treatment after beatings and torture.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, in updated statistics, said Saturday that at least 81 people had been shot and were in various stages of recovery.