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VP Chiwenga airlifted to South Africa

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Constantino Chiwenga

VICE-PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga has reportedly been airlifted to South Africa for treatment after his condition took a turn for the worst mid-last week, according to News Day Zimbabwe.

Sources privy to the goings-on said  Constantino Chiwenga, the power behind the removal of former President Robert Mugabe last year and the rise to power of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, was taken ill after being forced to abandon a Cabinet meeting on October 2.

The Vice-President and his wife, Marry, have been showing signs of illness with, visibly swollen hands.

“Chiwenga is in South Africa now for treatment. He was airlifted there last week,” an insider said.

There were also unconfirmed reports that Marry, whose hands have also shown signs of swelling, forcing her at some point to wear gloves, was in the neighbouring country to seek medical attention.

Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi, who last month announced that Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo was unwell, refused to comment on the Constantino Chiwenga issue yesterday.

“All issues to do with the President or the Vice-Presidents’ affairs are disclosed by the Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet for presidential communications, Cde George Charamba. I urge you to talk to him for comment on VP Chiwenga’s condition. He [Charamba] works very closely with the Presidium and he will be better suited to give you the state of affairs,” Mutodi said.

On Moyo, Mutodi said: “Minister Moyo is back in the country and recovering from home. He will, however, continue to see his doctors in South Africa and might visit them again this week.”

Moyo, an army general who took part in the November putsch against Mugabe, was hospitalised at an unnamed SA hospital on Thursday afternoon.

Charamba confirmed Chiwenga was in South Africa but said the Vice-President was undergoing a “routine” check-up for “historical” health issues.
“I am not sure it’s an admission or a check-up. You will remember he and his wife were affected by the White City Stadium incident,” Charamba said.
Although Charamba could not divulge where Chiwenga was being treated, reports in South Africa indicated he was being admitted at Netcare Hospital in Woodhill, Pretoria.

Chiwenga, Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri and Marry were some of the high-profile political figures affected by an attempted assassination on Mnangagwa in June at a Zanu PF campaign rally in Bulawayo.

The grenade blast almost wiped out the entire Zanu PF praesidium, while two aide de camps lost their lives.

Charamba said Chiwenga also has health issues connected to the liberation struggle.

“You also may want to know that historically, he had a bullet lodged in his lungs from the war period.

“He was shot in combat at Chiduku [West of Rusape]. The other thing is he has told me he had not taken leave in the past five years and the gruelling election we’ve just gone through. He needed to fend off fatigue. We are expecting them back sometime this week,” Charamba said.

As reports of his illness and changing skin colour swirled early this year, Chiwenga publicly revealed that he had picked up an “illness” during Operation Restore Legacy that forced Mugabe to resign last November.

“Today, we want to set the record straight on one issue, now that journalists are here. When we did our operation to normalise things in the country, I was with General [Phillip Valerio] Sibanda and many others. They are brave men, indeed.

“We also informed vaMatanga [Godwin, then Deputy Commissioner General of police, but now Commissioner General] about the plan, it was during that time that I fell ill.

I had this skin disease [nhuta] that affected my whole body from beneath my feet to my back and the journalists started saying I was using skin lightening creams, but that was not the case. I was sick,” the Vice-President, a career soldier who commanded Zimbabwe’s military for almost a decade and a half, said.

V.P Constantino Chiwenga suggested he was paying the price for removing Mugabe, triggering speculation he might have been poisoned.

“I have decided to talk about it because that is what you see, but you should know that everything that happens, comes with a price,” he said.

NewsDay

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HEALTH

Perence Shiri, Zimbabwe Agriculture Minister Dies

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Perrence-Shiri-Dead

Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister Perence Shiri, a retired general who helped plot the ouster of Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, has died, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday.

Perence Shiri, who commanded the air force for 25 years until he joined the government in 2017, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, two government sources said. He died in the early hours of Wednesday.

“Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country,” Mnangagwa said in a statement. He did not say how Shiri died.

But domestic media said Shiri, 65, succumbed to complications from the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, which has infected 2,817 and killed 40 in Zimbabwe.

A liberation war veteran,Perrence Shiri had a chequered past. He commanded the army’s Fifth Brigade unit that carried out the 1980s massacres of thousands of civilians in western Zimbabwe as the government sought to quell an insurgency.

The army massacres, known as ‘Gukurahundi’, a Shona term meaning the ‘early rain that washes away the chaff’, remain a sore point for the people of the Matabeleland region, many of whom demand justice and reparations.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change accused Perence Shiri of being among the security chiefs who organised violence against its members after Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential vote in 2008.Reuters

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HEALTH

US buys nearly all of Gilead’s Covid-19 drug Remdesivir

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Remdesivir Covid 19

The US is buying nearly all the next three months’ projected production of Covid-19 treatment Remdesivir from US manufacturer Gilead.

The US health department announced on Tuesday it had agreed to buy 500,000 doses for use in American hospitals. Tests suggest Remdesivir cuts recovery times, though it is not yet clear if it improves survival rates.

Gilead did sign a licensing deal in May for production outside the US but it is still in its early stages.

“President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorised therapeutic for Covid-19,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. A course of treatment in the US will cost $2,340 (£1,900).

Nine companies can make the drug under licence outside the US for distribution in 127 mostly poorer countries, and the cost is lower. But the project is still in its early stages.

Additional quantities are being manufactured for use in clinical trials. But critics say the US move to buy up so much stock from Gilead itself undermines international co-operation on COVID, given that other countries have taken part in trials of Remdesivir, originally an anti-viral against Ebola.

“The trial that gave the result that allowed Remdesivir to sell their drug wasn’t just done in the US. There were patients participating through other European countries, in the UK as well, and internationally, Mexico and other places,” Oxford University’s Prof Peter Horby told BBC Radio 4.

He said the move also had implications for any possible future vaccine, with the need for “a much stronger framework if we are going to develop these things and they’re going to be used for national emergencies”.

Senior Sussex University lecturer, Ohid Yaqub, said: “It so clearly signals an unwillingness to co-operate with other countries and the chilling effect this has on international agreements about intellectual property rights.”Some in the US have criticised the purchase price, as taxpayer money had helped fund Remdesivir’s development.BBC

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HEALTH

17 new Zimbabwe Covid-19 cases confirmed

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Zimbabwe Covid 19

Seventeen new cases of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe, a majority of which are from quarantine facilities were reported yesterday bringing the total number of cases to 591.

From the cases confirmed yesterday, 13 involved returnees from South Africa, one from Botswana while three were local transmissions. The Ministry of Health and Child Care daily update shows that one of the cases confirmed as a local transmission had to contact with a known confirmed case.

Investigations are, however, underway to establish the source of infection for the two other local transmissions. Cases of recoveries also continue to increase with the latest statistics from the update standing at 162, leaving the country with 421 active COVID 19 cases.

The latest recoveries were reported from Mashonaland East (3), Mashonaland Central (2), Bulawayo (2), Matabeleland North (2), Mashonaland West (1) and Manicaland (1). The number of people who have died from the virus remains at seven.

“To date, the total number of confirmed cases is 591, recovered 162, active cases, 422 and seven deaths since the onset of the outbreak on 20 March 2020,” reads part of the update.

Zimbabwe has so far conducted 67 755 tests for Covid-19 from which, 30 711 were diagnostic tests while the remaining were rapid tests done for screening purposes. The Herald

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