Zimbabwe’s vice president, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga, is suspected of suffering from the lethal polonium- 210 poisoning and is reportedly admitted at an undisclosed Indian military hospital, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has been told.
High level sources in the defence ministry this week disclosed that Chiwenga was rushed to India aboard a private plane through the Manyame air base in the capital, for “urgent treatment” and “tests of any possible unidentifiable poisons” as military intelligence officials suspect the former Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) boss, could have ingested the poison administered using food by his political enemies.
Chiwenga’s medical rescue efforts are said to have involved top officials from India’s armed forces and the Zimbabwe army, and that India’s president, Ram Nath Kovind, had called the VP to check on his progress in treatment and health.
Chiwenga paid Kovind a visit last year in March, as a special envoy of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to explain the regime’s new dispensation policy following the overthrow of the former leader, Robert Mugabe, in a military coup in November 2017.
“Number 2 (Chiwenga) was rushed to an Indian military hospital following suspicion that he could have been poisoned with some kind of dose of a lethal poison or military grade nerve agent during the November coup period,” said the sources.
“Military intelligence officials are not taking any chances. The fact that medical doctors in Zimbabwe and South Africa have failed to explain his exact ailment, made them believe that he could have been made to ingest polonium -210 using food by his enemies, which is very difficult to trace in the human body and only nuclear scientists have the expertise needed to trace it.”
Polonium-210 is a rare radioactive metal discovered by Marie Curie in the late 19th century. While radioactive, it emits a high-energy form of radiation, but the particles do not travel far and it decays relatively quickly. Curie named the chemical element after her country, Poland.
Polonium-210 is also a known carcinogen (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue). When inhaled, it causes lung cancer, and if swallowed, it becomes concentrated in red blood cells, before spreading to the liver, kidneys, bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract, and the testicles or ovaries, according to medicalnewstoday.
The deadly poison was infamously used to kill the former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in London in 2006. He died of radiation sickness. Litvinenko is alleged to have swallowed a fatal dose of Po-210 by drinking tea at a business meeting with two other Russians. Both were charged with his murder.
Last year opposition politician and activist, Elliot Pfebve, made stunning revelations that the late prime minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai may have been poisoned using a poisonous metal isotopy allegedly bought by the ruling Zanu PF party from Russia, which is similar to polonium-210, to eradicate the opposition leadership.
“Tsvangirai may have been poisoned, in the same way, Mnangagwa was poisoned. In 2014, I received a tip-off that Zanu PF bought a poisonous metal isotopy from Russia destined to eradicate opposition leadership.
“It is similar to Polonium 210 which killed Alexander Litvinenko in London but a slow reactive poison than Polonium 210 that takes time to kill its victim by inducing cancer.
This may have explained why recently Mnangagwa came out open on what doctors told him, of a poisonous metal found in his body, which can only be found from 2 military governments of the world, Russia and Israeli,” Pfebve said.
Ironically it is Chiwenga who reacted with speed to Mnangagwa’s alleged poisoning, by sending a helicopter to airlift him from a party rally in Gwanda, and then further to South Africa for emergency attendance.
Mnangagwa is thought to have survived the poisoning, through the skin of the teeth, as he received early medical treatment and because the poisonous metal found in his system was quickly removed.
Local online media and the mainstream reported this week that Chiwenga was in India for treatment, with confirmation from the information ministry, which described his ailment as a “minor abdominal ailment”.
Another online publication, ZimLive, said the second in charge had reportedly undergone esophageal manometry, “used to measure the strength and muscle coordination of one’s esophagus when they swallow”.
There has also been speculation of witchcraft claims as the source of Chiwenga’s affliction, while other reports have linked his medical woes to skin cancer. Chiwenga has been in and out of the hospital in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Only last week the VP was at Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital.
Another high profile world leader, thought to have succumbed to polonium-210 is the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, according to a Swiss forensic report obtained by Al-Jazeera.
Arafat’s official medical records say he died in 2004 from a stroke resulting from a blood disorder. But his body was exhumed in 2012 amid continuing claims he was murdered.
The Swiss report said tests on the body showed “unexpected high activity” of polonium, which “moderately” supported the poisoning theory.
Mnangagwa appoints army General Sibanda into the Zanu PF politburo
President Emerson Mnangagwa has appointed General Philip Valerie Sibanda, the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, to the Zanu PF politburo, in violation of the national constitution.
During a Zanu PF conference in Gweru on Saturday, Mnangagwa announced that the country’s top-ranking soldier would become an ex officio member of the party’s highest decision-making body in between congresses. Mnangagwa, who benefited from a 2017 military coup, made this announcement during his closing remarks.
“During the course of the year, we lost one of our party stalwarts, Cde Joshua Teke Malinga who was the Secretary for People with Disabilities.
Philip Sibanda’s appointment is a violation of the national constitution which says “The Defence Forces must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to the civilian authority as established by this constitution.”
While Zimbabwe’s military is known for being embedded with ruling party politics, Sibanda’s appointment is an unprecedented case of a serving soldier taking a leadership position within a political party.
The Zanu PF-led authority has ironically hounded out of service, a lot of officers within the country’s unformed forces for associating themselves with the opposition, which protests continued military involvement in Zanu PF campaigns.
The appointment of Philip Sibanda could come as an attempt by the under-fire leader to hedge himself against a possible coup with the military ever interested in who should be in the country.
The controversial appointment could also fall within the willy politician’s paraphernalia of self-serving schemes amid subtle signals of an ambition to go for a third term.
Zimbabwe has a dirty history of military interference in the country’s political affairs.
During past election periods, partisan military commanders have vowed never to “salute” an opposition leader emerging from the country’s polls in an indirect threat to block the ascension into power of any winner of the presidential election who is not Zanu PF.
Mnangagwa could also be preparing Philip Sibanda for a post in the Zanu PF presidium.
Last year, exiled former cabinet minister and politburo member Jonathan Moyo revealed Mnangagwa was keen to name Sibanda as his second vice president.
Sibanda is among former liberation war fighters drafted into the country’s military upon independence after having waged the war as a ZIPRA combatant.
ZIPRA was the military wing of the former PF Zapu, a liberation war movement that fought side by side with Zanu PF for the attainment of independence.
The current co-vice president, also a former PF Zapu politician, is battling poor health.
Mohadi collapsed a week ago while addressing a Zanu PF rally called to drum up support for a Gutu party election candidate.
Public Outcry Grows Over Mnangagwa’s Appointments of Family Members as Deputy Ministers
On Monday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa was accused of nepotism for appointing his son, David Kudakwashe Mnangagwa, as the deputy finance minister in his new cabinet, after a controversial re-election. David will be working under finance minister Mthuli Cube. Additionally, the president’s nephew, Tongai Mafidhi Mnangagwa, was named as the deputy minister of tourism and hospitality.
According to Fadzayi Mahere, a member of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), the cabinet of Mnangagwa is unacceptable. Mahere stated that it is a combination of illegitimacy, corruption, violence, nepotism, incompetence, and sex scandals. She added that it lacks the ethical leadership that Zimbabweans need and deserve. It is no surprise that the national mood is dismal.
Mnangagwa appointed Christopher and Monica Mutsvangwa as ministers. Christopher will lead the new ministry of Veterans of Liberation, while Monica will be the minister of Women’s Affairs and SMEs.
David Mnangagwa graduated from the University of Zimbabwe with a law degree. He was elected to parliament through the youth quota system, listed on a Zanu PF party roster from the Midlands province. Mnangagwa is believed to have almost two dozen children.
Tongai, meanwhile, is the Zanu PF MP for Hunyani constituency. His late father, David, was Mnangagwa’s young brother.
On Monday, sources reported that Mnangagwa is contemplating bestowing an official role on his son, Emmerson Junior, in his office. According to the source, Junior has already attended some of the president’s meetings with foreign investors, which has been an uncomfortable situation. Mnangagwa aims to regularise this arrangement by giving Junior an official position, such as an adviser or director.
On August 23rd, the 80-year-old Mnangagwa was declared the winner of the election amidst opposition allegations that the vote was fraudulent. He is now serving his second and final term as president, becoming another addition to the list of African leaders who have established political dynasties.
In Congo-Brazzaville, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso appointed his son Denis-Christel as a cabinet minister, a move that revived media speculation that he had a dynastic succession in mind.
Teodoro Obiang, President of Equatorial Guinea, appointed his son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, as Vice President. He has been in power since removing his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema in 1979.
The former President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, is the son of Omar Bongo who held the position from 1967 to 2009. Similarly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila succeeded his father, Laurent-Désiré, after his assassination and remained as the head of state for 17 years.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has appointed his daughter Ange Kagame as the deputy executive director of the Strategy and Policy Unit in the Office of the President.
“CCC’s Ian Makone Takes the Helm as Harare’s New Mayor with Kudzai Kadzombe as Deputy
The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has a new mayor in Harare. Ian Makone, who represents Ward 18, won the vote of the council on Monday, replacing Jacob Mafume from Ward 17. Kudzai Kadzombe, representing Ward 41, will serve as his deputy.
The CCC won a large majority in the election, taking 42 of the 45 council seats. Makone received 46 votes from the council, while his opponent, Temany Utete of Zanu PF, received only 7. Kadzombe won with 47 votes, compared to Susan Chuma of Zanu PF, who received 7. Party leader Nelson Chamisa instructed CCC councillors to vote for Makone and Kadzombe, and issued similar instructions for the election in Bulawayo.
In his first speech as mayor, Ian Makone pledged to prioritize service delivery to all residents, regardless of political affiliation. He also promised to tackle corruption and ensure that council workers are fairly paid. Tafadzwa Muguti, Harare’s secretary for provincial affairs, offered government support to the new council in addressing issues such as water supply, garbage collection, and sewer maintenance.
Overall, the message from the council and government officials was one of unity and shared responsibility for the well-being of Harare and its residents.