HARARE – The government moved to deny rumours of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s death on Sunday, in the process confirming our exclusive story about his medical airlift to India last week.
A WhatsApp message claiming Chiwenga had died spread over the weekend, and the government – which is notoriously secretive about the health of VIPs – finally admitted what we reported on February 7: that Chiwenga had been airlifted to India for treatment.
“The Hon. Vice President CDN Chiwenga is recovering well from some minor abdominal ailment in Delhi, India,” Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi said on Twitter, his comments aimed at quashing the social media rumours.
Over the last year, Chiwenga has been in and out of hospitals suffering from a range of ailments including – according to him and government officials – exhaustion, poisoning and a bullet lodged in his lungs from the war of independence 40 years ago.
Two weeks ago, Chiwenga visited a hospital in South Africa where sources have told ZimLive he complained that his esophagus was “dry”. He told doctors he was struggling to eat, which would account for his dramatic weight loss which was evident when he attended a Cabinet meeting on February 5 – his last public sighting.
Chiwenga reportedly underwent esophageal manometry, used to measure the strength and muscle coordination of one’s esophagus when they swallow.
“It was detected that he was having motility problems, but not cancerous. He was advised to see an esophageal surgeon,” a medical source briefed on Chiwenga’s treatment said.
If Chiwenga indeed has esophageal motility, which can lead to heartburn, that would suggest mounting health woes as it adds to the other health problems he and government officials have shared publicly.