The Sunday News
Kuda Bwititi and Lincoln Towindo, Harare Bureau
VICE-PRESIDENT Dr Constantino Chiwenga says timely intervention by President Mnangagwa to engage his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping to facilitate his airlift to Beijing for specialist care and treatment prevented his “imminent death” and saved his life.
In July, the President made the decision when VP Chiwenga was battling for life in the intensive care unit of a South African hospital. At the time, the VP suffered memory lapses, speech impairment and excruciating pain.
However, in what has been an extraordinary recovery story, VP Chiwenga — who arrived home in the early hours of Saturday after a four-month absence — yesterday looked fit and agile when he received President Mnangagwa at his home.
The duo shared a hearty embrace before an hour-and-half private engagement. Emerging from the meeting, a visibly elated President Mnangagwa, who was accompanied by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, explained the VP’s path to recovery.
“When he left he was unwell, which was giving us sleepless nights because our comrade was unwell. So we arranged for him to go to South Africa and while he was there, we spoke to our Chinese friends, we spoke to President Xi Jinping, who is our dear friend, who offered to assist with his treatment. We saw it fit for the VP to go to China. We flew him there and he stayed there for a number of months. Now you can see for yourselves that he has regained his fitness and he is clear-minded. When he initially left he was having memory lapses, and he was in so much pain that everyone could tell the agony he was in.”
VP Chiwenga, he said, was now “raring to go”.
“I am confident that now the whole of Zimbabwe knows that the Vice-President is back and fit, and he is very clear and raring to go. That is why I said God is there because my colleague is back and we can now put our heads together to uplift the country.”
When our Harare Bureau asked him when the VP was expected back in office, President Mnangagwa responded: “You can see the way he looks now, but on my part, I am not too concerned about him returning back to work, I am more concerned about his welfare and that he is back to full fitness. But as someone who is coming from being ill, I only wish for him to start his duties slowly and move progressively to take up more work. You can see for yourselves that the man is glowing.”
The President also revealed that the VP’s ill-health had “affected him personally”, adding that his return had brought him immense relief. He said he also sent a special message of thanks to President Xi Jinping for facilitating VP Chiwenga’s treatment.
“I am also very grateful to my brother, the President of the People’s Republic of China whom I talked to and he said he will do his best and instruct his system to do their best to look after your Vice-President, and that has been done.
“And I have sent a letter to President Xi Jinping thanking him for the role he played in looking after my VP. Besides that, I have also asked General Chiwenga on how was the care in the hospital and he says, ‘Mukoma, ndakabatwa zvakanaka, I can’t think of anything else or wish for anything else . . .’”
With a voice full of life, VP Chiwenga thanked the President for his judicious decision to send him to China for treatment.
“And I want to thank personally my President, His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, if he had not intervened the time I was in the intensive care in South Africa, I could have been history by now, and when he communicated with his counterpart President Xi Jinping, I was then taken to China . . . he did not act as the President but acted as my brother to make sure that I survive . . . And I would also want, before I go far, to thank the people of Zimbabwe for their prayers; those prayers from across the country helped my recovery.”
He also explained his hospital stint and recovery.
“Up to yesterday, from the time I left, I had spent 123 days in hospital. When I got there it was the 21st of July and got my discharge certificate later on after 123 days. I feel strong and I am raring to go for work . . . so I am very fit and happy.”
He said he had already resumed his duties. It is now incumbent upon us to work to achieve the vision our President has set for 2030”.
“Let us work with him tirelessly to ensure everything is achieved.”