HARARE – Not seen in public in almost a month, the ailing Vice President Constantino Chiwenga was left as Acting President on Tuesday after President Emmerson Mnangagwa left for Mozambique to attend the United States-Africa Business Summit.
Chiwenga, 62, was too poorly to attend the usual farewell handshake rituals at the Robert Mugabe International Airport before Mnangagwa’s departure. Unusually, the second Vice President Kembo Mohadi, 69, was also absent, he too reported to be receiving treatment in South Africa.
Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri was the most senior ranking government official at the airport, and spoke briefly with Mnangagwa who left on a chartered jet hired from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Chiwenga was airlifted to India on May 18 and did not return home until June 9. He has not been seen in public even after his return. He missed a meeting between Mnangagwa and leaders of some opposition parties on June 14 and also did not attend Cabinet on Tuesday this week.
Government sources said Chiwenga, whose ailment has not been disclosed, was “still indisposed”.
“He’s recovering at home, there’s really no deadline on when he will return to his office,” one official said, while also briefing that Chiwenga’s wife, Mary, was also battling poor health.
Mohadi, meanwhile, is also understood to have been flown to South Africa where he regularly goes for treatment. The nature of his chronic illness has not been disclosed.
The apparent paralysis at the top of the country’s political leadership has seen Muchinguri assume a more influential role, with a lot of government business now going through her, sources say.