Presidency refers questions about Chiwenga’s health to his family

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga
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HARARE – Zimbabwe’s presidency says it is deferring to Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s family to comment about his health, a week after the ailing 62-year-old was airlifted to South Africa for treatment.

Chiwenga, not seen in public for over a month, is being treated at a private hospital in Pretoria. The exact nature of his illness remains a subject of speculation, although his political allies now say he was poisoned.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba would not confirm where Chiwenga is being treated or discuss his condition on Wednesday.

Charamba told ZimLive: “I’m not able at this stage to give you an accurate update on the matter. Usually, I defer to the family on such matters. What I can confirm though is that he’s still recuperating, and is yet to resume official duties.”

Charamba said President Emmerson Mnangagwa was “particularly anxious that he keeps away from work to the extent possible until he is fully recovered”, adding: “This is also consistent with, and supportive of medical opinion. Should I get an update from the family, I will share it with you.”

Chiwenga has been in and out of hospital since October last year. His wife, Mary, is also reported to be receiving constant medical attention. The couple have appeared in public with an obvious loss of skin pigmentation on their hands and faces, which Chiwenga once said started at around the same time that he led a military coup that ousted former President Robert Mugabe.

Chiwenga’s friends say his drinking water was poisoned. He is reported to be suffering from an acute liver problem, coupled with an oesophagus ailment that is preventing him from feeding well.