The Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), General Constantine Chiwenga, Monday appeared at the Independence Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare days after he was reportedly rushed to China for a medical check-up.
Reports of the commander’s China trip were confirmed by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who told NewsDay that the army chief had indeed gone to seek medical attention in China after his non-appearance in public had raised eyebrows.
Mnangagwa said Chiwenga was due to return last Friday. True to his word, the ZDF commander was at the celebrations — appearing quite fit as he mingled with fellow security chiefs and sat alert throughout the proceedings.
The General even accompanied President Robert Mugabe in a five-minute guard of honour inspection.
Master of ceremony at the celebrations, Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu, launched a thinly veiled attack on NewsDay which published the story, saying the presence of Chiwenga at the Independence celebrations should “shame” those who said he (Chiwenga) was ill.
“We can see that the Commander of the ZDF is here and is very fit,” said Shamu.
“Are those newspapers that claimed he was ill not ashamed now?”
Sources last Thursday told NewsDay that the army chief had been hastily flown to China to seek medical attention for an undisclosed illness.
But while confirming that indeed Chiwenga had sought medical attention in China, Mnangagwa said it was just a routine medical check-up which every person at any point in their lives undergoes.