Constantino Chiwenga

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Rtd. General
Constantino Chiwenga
Constantino Chiwenga.jpg
First Vice-President of Zimbabwe
Assumed office
28 December 2017
President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Preceded by Emmerson Mnangagwa
Minister of Defence and War Veterans
Assumed office
29 December 2017
President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Preceded by Kembo Mohadi
Vice President and Co-Second Secretary of ZANU–PF
Assumed office
23 December 2017
Serving with Kembo Mohadi
President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Preceded by Post Established
Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
In office
December 2003 – 19 December 2017
President Robert Mugabe
Emmerson Mnangagwa
Preceded by Vitalis Zvinavashe
Succeeded by Philip Valerio Sibanda
Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army
In office
1994 – December 2003
President Robert Mugabe
Succeeded by Philip Valerio Sibanda
Personal details
Born Constantine Guveya Chiwenga
(1956-08-25) 25 August 1956 (age 61)
Wedza, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now Hwedza, Zimbabwe)
Nationality Zimbabwean
Political party ZANU–PF
Spouse(s)
  • Jocelyn Jacobsen (née Mauchaza)
    (m. 1998; div. 2010)
  • Mary Mubaiwa
    (m. 2011)
Military service
Nickname(s) Dominic Chinenge
Allegiance Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Defence Forces
Service/branch Zimbabwe National Army
Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army
Years of service Until 2017
Rank General
Battles/wars Rhodesian Bush War

Constantino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga (born Constantine Guveya Chiwenga; 25 August 1956) is a retired Zimbabwean general currently serving as Vice-President of Zimbabwe since December 2017. He also serves as the Minister of Defence, Security and War Veterans, and as the Vice-President of the ruling ZANU-PF party since December 2017. He is the former Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces[1] and Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army.

Personal life[edit]

He was born in 1956 in the Wedza district of Mashonaland East Province. General Chiwenga was educated up to O Level at St Mary's Mission in Hwedza, together with Air Marshal Perence Shiri and Brigadier General Shungu, Commander Mechanised Brigade.[2] On 29 July 2016, he changed his name to Constantino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga.[3]

Rhodesian Bush War[edit]

He joined the war in 1973 and was trained in Mozambique as a ZANLA militant. Chiwenga adopted the war name of "Dominic Chinenge". He rose through the ranks to become a Provincial Commander for Masvingo/Gaza Province deputised by George Chiweshe who was the Provincial Commissar. He was later promoted to the High Command in 1978 to the post of ZANLA Deputy Political Commissar as Josiah Tungamirai's deputy.[4]

Career in the Zimbabwe military[edit]

In 1981 he was attested to the newly formed Zimbabwe National Army as a brigadier commanding First Brigade in Bulawayo. He was later promoted to the rank of major general and reverted to his original name of Constantine Chiwenga.

In the early 1980s after failing basic Officers course at the Zimbabwe Staff College he bribed a junior officer to give him answers for practical Intermediate Staff Course. It is alleged the he accepted a green coded paper with suggested solutions which are available only after the exam. Chiwenga was expelled from the course after refusing to name the junior officer who had given him the paper. He then went on to shoot himself through the right shoulder in an attempt to end his life and was admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.

On the formation of Zimbabwe Defence forces (ZDF) in 1994 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and was appointed commander of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA). Upon the retirement of General Vitalis Zvinavashe in 2004, he was promoted to the rank of Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.[4]

He is the chairman of the Joint Operations Command, which comprises the commanders of ZNA, Prison Services, Central Intelligence Organisation, Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Air Force of Zimbabwe. He participated actively during the Zimbabwe land reform programme, and is a beneficiary of the land seizures with a thriving farm near Harare.[5] He and his wife are also on the sanction list for those Zimbabwean officials not allowed to enter European Union and the United States.[6]

Zimbabwe's government announced on 18 December 2017 that Chiwenga was set to retire pending redeployment.[7] He retired from the army on 19 December.[8]

On 28 December 2017 Constantino Chiwenga was sworn in as co-vice president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, serving together with former Security minister Kembo Mohadi.

2017 military intervention in Zimbabwe[edit]

The political crisis in Zimbabwe came to a head on 6 November 2017, when Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was dismissed by President Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa fled the country two days later, citing "incessant threats" against his family.[9] Meanwhile, Chiwenga was on an official visit to China, where he learned that Mugabe had ordered his arrest upon his return to Zimbabwe. However, soldiers loyal to Chiwenga, disguised as baggage handlers, overpowered the police at the airport and cleared the way for his arrival on 12 November 2017.[10][9]

On 13 November 2017, Chiwenga released a press statement chastising those responsible for the dismissals of government officials in the ruling ZANU-PF party.[11] He warned that the armed forces would be forced to intervene should the "purging" not stop. In response, ZANU-PF's spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo released a press statement accusing Chiwenga of "treasonable conduct".[12]

On 14 November it was reported that soldiers and armoured military vehicles were seen headed towards the capital, Harare. Several roads were later blocked in the city including the one leading to President Robert Mugabe's private residence, as well as one leading to the ZANU-PF aligned national broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). In the early hours of the next day the military spokesperson, Major General Sibusiso Moyo, appeared on ZBC Television announcing that the military had not taken over the country and that the president and his family were safe. He also announced that the armed forces would be "targeting criminals around him [Mugabe] who are committing crimes... that are causing social and economic suffering in the country". It was later reported that several ZANU-PF politicians and government ministers were detained or arrested, including the finance minister, Ignatius Chombo.[13]

Alleged Chinese involvement[edit]

Days before the coup, Chiwenga visited China to meet senior Chinese military leaders, including Generals Chang Wanquan and Li Zuocheng. Chiwenga's visit to China has come under scrutiny, with speculation that he had sought Beijing's tacit approval for a possible move against Mugabe.[14] However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that his visit was a "normal military exchange."[15] The Chinese embassy in South Africa called the reports of Chinese involvement "self-contradictory, full of logical fallacies, and filled with evil intentions."[16]

Political career[edit]

The Presidential Press Secretary issued a statement on 23 December stating that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had appointed Chiwenga along with the then state-security minister Kembo Mohadi, as the Vice-Presidents of the ruling ZANU-PF party.[17] Chiwenga and Mohadi were confirmed as the state Vice-Presidents on 27 December, with their swearing-in ceremony scheduled on the next day.[18] He was appointed as the Vice President of Zimbabwe on 28 December along with Mohadi, who was appointed as the Second Vice-President.[19] He was appointed as the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs on the next day.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rights commission soon: PM". 11 Dec 2009. p. The Zimbabwean. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  2. ^ "Shiri's assassination attempt was a hoax". The Zimbabwe Situation. 6 Jan 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  3. ^ Ziga, Brenda (30 July 2016). "Gen Chiwenga changes name". The Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Who's Who Profile - Zimbabwe - Constantine Chiwenga". Africa Confidential. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  5. ^ "C. Guveya Chiwenga". Africa Intelligence. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  6. ^ "Sanctions Lists". The Zimbabwe Situation. 2005. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  7. ^ "Zimbabwe Army chief Constantino Chiwenga retires for possible VP job". Daily Natio. 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-25. 
  8. ^ "UPDATED: Gen Chiwenga, Chihuri retire". The Herald. 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-25. 
  9. ^ a b Kumbuka, Desmond; Marawanyika, Godfrey; Latham, Brian (8 November 2017). "Zimbabwe's Ousted Vice President Flees After Death Threats". Bloomberg. Retrieved 18 November 2017. 
  10. ^ "Robert Mugabe, in Speech to Zimbabwe, Refuses to Say if He Will Resign". The New York Times. 19 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  11. ^ Kwaramba, Fungi & Tafirenyika, Mugove (14 November 2017). "Chiwenga warns Mugabe, Zanu PF". Daily News. Retrieved 15 November 2017. 
  12. ^ "Zimbabwe crisis: Army takes over - Mugabe 'detained'". BBC News. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017. 
  13. ^ Dzirutwe, MacDonald (15 November 2017). "Zimbabwe army launches takeover against 'criminals' around Mugabe, says president 'safe'". Reuters. Retrieved 15 November 2017. 
  14. ^ [1]. CNN. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Zimbabwe military chief's China trip was normal visit, Beijing says". Reuters. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017. 
  16. ^ Phillips, Tom (21 November 2017). "China rejects claims it had hand in efforts to oust Robert Mugabe". The Guardian. 
  17. ^ "Constantino Chiwenga named ZANU-PF deputy". Al-Jazeera. 24 December 2017. 
  18. ^ "Zimbabwe: Latest - Chiwenga Mohadi Confirmed State VPs". AllAfrica. 27 December 2017. 
  19. ^ "Former army chief Constantino Chiwenga sworn in as Zimbabwe's vice-president". Agence-France Presse. The Straits Times. 28 December 2017. 
  20. ^ "More clout for Chiwenga as he is appointed Minister of Defence". The Zimbabwe Mail. 29 December 2017. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Vitalis Zvinavashe
Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army
1994 - 2003
Succeeded by
Philip Valerio Sibanda
Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
2003 - 2017