By Hope Sarara
VICE President Constantino Chiwenga return from China in the early hours of Saturday and was cryptically received at the Robert Mugabe International Airport by
Chinese Deputy Ambassador to Zimbabwe Zhao Boagang.
Chiwenga has been in the Asian nation for close to six months receiving treatment for what sources claim is cancer of the throat.
While social media was awash with claims that no government or Zanu PF official was on hand to receive the former Commander Defence Forces nEWS263zim.com has gathered that several Cabinet Minister were at the airport.
“Several Cabinet Ministers including Intelligence Minister Mudha (Owen Ncube) where there. His brother and son were also there as well as government protocol,” a source said.
In a short video Chiwenga is seen embracing his brother Onesimo and son Tawanda among other people. However there is no sign of Mudha or any other known government official in among those waiting on the tarmac to receive the VP.
Asked how the Vice President is the close source gushed: “More than well.” The career soldier reportedly did not say much on arrival.
“He just greeted people, was jovial and straight away went into a closed door meeting with Boagang,” nEWS263zim.com heard.
A top government source however said the who issue around Chiwenga’s return and the Chinese involvement “stinks to high heaven.”
“Airport welcoming parties are reserved for the President alone. Yes the Deputy Ambassador (Boagang) was tasked with liaising with both governments and had been tasked with issues around the VP’s health. You will notice that he has been the one giving official updates on Chiwenga’s recovery as well as anticipated dates of return.
“But suddenly he had gone quiet and did not tell anyone in government about this. Even government protocol head honchos were not aware save for one person (not identified). The secrecy is just too much. Its fishy,” said an insider.
Chiwenga catapulted President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power after masterminding the November 2017 coup that toppled then President Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa subsequently appointed Chiwenga as one of his two deputies but relations between the two have reportedly soured over the past year with insiders claiming the Vice President suspects he was “poisoned by people close to the President” as part of a developing power struggle within the ruling Zanu PF party.
Initially Chiwenga was airlifted to South Africa last year with State propagandists claiming he was being treated for bullet wounds dating back to the liberation struggle. But the Vice President’s health took a turn for the worst with pictures of him early this year showing a drastic loss of weight that triggered alarm among political watchers.
There have been claims that the Chinese have lost faith in Mnangagwa and want him replaced by Chiwenga who “has guaranteed their interests will be catered for.”
“Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe is Open for Business policy has riled the Chinese who supported his rise to power. They are angry he is prioritising relations with the US and other Western counties over them. Now they want him gone,” said a source.
While relations have seemed cordial between Mnangagwa’s administration and China over the past two years since his power grab
“The Chinese have shown their cards, they have taken this too far and too publicly. Its game on and now its up to Mnangagwa and Chiwenga either to close ranks or go their separate ways. Everything will depend on who blinks first,” another commentator argued.
Questions were also raised over the absence of Chiwenga’s wife who nEWS263zim.com in October reported that she had been banned by the VP from visiting him in China amid claims “she was leaking confidential information” to his political rivals.
Chiwenga had also sacked government security and only remained with one as well as Deputy Health Minister John Mangwiro who reportedly is his close relative.