Constantino Chiwenga

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Rtd. General

Constantino Chiwenga
The Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, General (Retd.) Dr. Constantino Chiwenga on March 23, 2018 (cropped).jpg
First Vice President of Zimbabwe
Assumed office
28 December 2017
PresidentEmmerson Mnangagwa
Preceded byEmmerson Mnangagwa
Minister of Defence and War Veterans
In office
29 December 2017 – 11 September 2018
PresidentEmmerson Mnangagwa
Preceded byKembo Mohadi
Succeeded byOppah Muchinguri-Kashiri
Vice President and Second Secretary of the Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF)
Assumed office
23 December 2017
Serving with Kembo Mohadi
PresidentEmmerson Mnangagwa
Preceded byPosition established
Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
In office
December 2003 – 19 December 2017
PresidentRobert Mugabe
Emmerson Mnangagwa
Preceded byVitalis Zvinavashe
Succeeded byPhilip Valerio Sibanda
Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army
In office
1994 – December 2003
PresidentRobert Mugabe
Succeeded byPhilip Valerio Sibanda
Personal details
Constantine Guveya Chiwenga

(1956-08-25) 25 August 1956 (age 63)
Wedza, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now Hwedza, Zimbabwe)
Political partyZANU–PF
  • Jocelyn Jacobsen (née Mauchaza)
    (m. 1998; div. 2012)
  • Marry Mubaiwa
    (m. 2011)
EducationPolitical Science
Military service
Nickname(s)Dominic Chinenge
AllegianceZimbabwe Zimbabwe Defence Forces
Branch/serviceZimbabwe National Army
Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army
Years of service1981–2017
Battles/warsRhodesian Bush War

Constantino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga (born Constantine Guveya Chiwenga; is a Zimbabwean politician and general currently serving as the First Vice-President of Zimbabwe under the 3rd and incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa since 2017 ousting the then-President Robert Mugabe who has ruled the country for 37 years. In addition, he is the current Vice President and Second Secretary of the ruling Zimbabwean African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) jointly serving with Kembo Mohadi under the party's incumbent President and First Secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa since 2017 too. In 2017, he managed to successfully topple Zimbabwe's President of 37 years Robert Mugabe through a bloodless coup[1]

Personal life[edit]

Chiwenga was born in 1956 in the Wedza district of Mashonaland East Province. He was educated up to O Level at St Mary's Mission in Hwedza, together with former students now Air Marshal Perence Shiri[2] and Brigadier General Shungurirai, Commander Mechanised Brigade. Chiwenga later on attained a PhD in ethics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2015.[3] On 29 July 2016, he changed his name to Constantino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga.[4]

Chiwenga has been married and divorced several times.[5] In 1998 he married Jocelyn Jacobsen (née Mauchaza) with a divorce in 2012.[6] There were no children from his marriage to Jacobsen.[7] In 2011 he married Marry (Mary) Mubaiwa, a former model,[6][7] while still married to Jacobsen.[8][9][10] In 2012 Marry bore their first child, a son, and a year later she bore a girl.[7][11]

In 2019, suffering from an undisclosed ailment, Chiwenga checked into a South African hospital. A fracus arose when his wife Marry visited him. She was later charged with attempted murder.[12]

In December 2019 Chiwenga filed for divorce from Marry.[11]

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.[13]

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 that 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.[13]

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.[14] He and his wife are also on the sanction list for those Zimbabwean officials not allowed to enter European Union and the United States.[15]

Zimbabwe's government announced on 18 December 2017 that Chiwenga was set to retire pending redeployment.[16] He retired from the army on 19 December.[17]

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 coup d' état 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.[18] 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.[18][19]

On 13 November 2017, Chiwenga released a press statement chastising those responsible for the dismissals of government officials in the ruling ZANU-PF party.[20] 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".[21]

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.[22]

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.[23] However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that his visit was a "normal military exchange."[24] The Chinese embassy in South Africa called the reports of Chinese involvement "self-contradictory, full of logical fallacies, and filled with evil intentions."[25]

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.[26] Chiwenga and Mohadi were confirmed as the state Vice-Presidents on 27 December, with their swearing-in ceremony scheduled on the next day.[27] He was appointed as the Vice President of Zimbabwe on 28 December along with Mohadi, who was appointed as the Second Vice-President.[28] He was appointed as the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs on the next day.[29]


  1. ^ France-Presse, Agence (13 November 2017). "Zimbabwe army chief warns military could 'step in' over party purge". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  2. ^ Nyarota, Geoffrey (6 January 2009). "Shiri's assassination attempt was a hoax". The Zimbabwe Situation. Archived from the original on 20 September 2015. Retrieved 2010-01-11.
  3. ^ "Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander graduates with PhD from UKZN". University of KwaZulu-Natal. 21 April 2015.
  4. ^ Ziga, Brenda (30 July 2016). "Gen Chiwenga changes name". The Herald. Harare, Zimbabwe. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  5. ^ "General Chiwenga has publicly been associated with five women, and has children with two of them. His first wife lives in Marondera and is from Wedza." Chiwenga has adult children from his first marriage. "General Chiwenga Moves Back to His First Wife". Gambawe. 8 December 2019. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019.
  6. ^ a b Mawire, Gift (7 March 2017). "Filthy Rich General Chiwenga Messy Divorce Exposes Plunder, Externalisation And Offshore Properties". PaZimbabwe. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019.
  7. ^ a b c "Chiwenga, Wife Welcome New Baby". Daily News. Harare, Zimbabwe. 19 November 2012. Archived from the original on 14 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Chiwenga in soup over new wife Mary". NewsDay. 17 November 2011. Archived from the original on 17 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Chiwenga 's fight with ex-wife reaches Supreme Court". PaZimbabwe. 20 August 2015. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019.
  10. ^ "Chiwenga wins farm battle over ex-wife". Zimbabwe Independent. 12 September 2014. Archived from the original on 3 July 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Vice President divorces wife, evicts her from home". P.M. News. Lagos, Nigeria: Independent Communications Network Limited (ICNL). 7 December 2019. Archived from the original on 8 December 2019.
  12. ^ Bellware, Kim (17 December 2019). "Wife of Zimbabwe vice president charged with money laundering, marriage fraud and attempting to kill her husband". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ a b "Who's Who Profile - Zimbabwe - Constantine Chiwenga". Africa Confidential. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
  14. ^ "C. Guveya Chiwenga". Africa Intelligence. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
  15. ^ "Sanctions Lists". The Zimbabwe Situation. 2005. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
  16. ^ "Zimbabwe Army chief Constantino Chiwenga retires for possible VP job". Daily Natio. 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  17. ^ "UPDATED: Gen Chiwenga, Chihuri retire". The Herald. 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Robert Mugabe, in Speech to Zimbabwe, Refuses to Say if He Will Resign". The New York Times. 19 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  20. ^ Kwaramba, Fungi & Tafirenyika, Mugove (14 November 2017). "Chiwenga warns Mugabe, Zanu PF". Daily News. Retrieved 15 November 2017.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ "Zimbabwe crisis: Army takes over - Mugabe 'detained'". BBC News. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  22. ^ Dzirutwe, MacDonald (15 November 2017). "Zimbabwe army launches takeover against 'criminals' around Mugabe, says president 'safe'". Reuters. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  23. ^ [1]. CNN. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  24. ^ "Zimbabwe military chief's China trip was normal visit, Beijing says". Reuters. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  25. ^ Phillips, Tom (21 November 2017). "China rejects claims it had hand in efforts to oust Robert Mugabe". The Guardian.
  26. ^ "Constantino Chiwenga named ZANU-PF deputy". Al-Jazeera. 24 December 2017.
  27. ^ "Zimbabwe: Latest - Chiwenga Mohadi Confirmed State VPs". AllAfrica. 27 December 2017.
  28. ^ "Former army chief Constantino Chiwenga sworn in as Zimbabwe's vice-president". Agence-France Presse. The Straits Times. 28 December 2017.
  29. ^ "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