By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has claimed that he was not told that his liberation war colleague, the late former Agriculture minister, Perrance Shiri was ill when he died on Wednesday.
Shiri who notoriously led the Gukurahundi Massacres as the Fifth Brigade army commander is believed to have died from the coronavirus a day after his driver succumbed to the deadly virus.
However, Shiri’s family said it suspected that he could have succumbed to food poisoning, not COVID-19 since he died after severe vomiting and was showing symptoms consistent with food poisoning.
In a leaked audio circulating on social media in which Chiwenga was allegedly talking to Shiri’s family, he said he was not aware the Gukurahundi army commander was critically ill before he died.
“Hapana kana pandakambonzwa kuti munhu arwara. Ndakagara ndokuisa foni pasi. Ndakumba ndakafona futi kuma9anheru. Ndapedza kutauranaye ndakangoisa foni paside ndobva ndabatwa nehope. Kuma past 3am ndobva kwauya foni yaCDF.
“Zvikanzi shefu ndirikukubatai, hakuna kumira zvakanaka. Ndikati chii? Zvikanzi cde Shiri vatisiya. Hazvina kupinda mumusoro mangu kuti zvaitika asi ndozvavapo. Ndochokwadi chiripo.
(Noone told me and I never knew he was ill. I called him late Tuesday, we talked and I slept. I was then called at 3am Wednesday with shocking news of his death.),” Chiwenga said.
The family also said doctors who initially attended to him also suspected food poisoning.
Family spokesperson Benjamin Chikerema (Junior), however, said they would be guided by post-mortem results.
“We have noted social media reports of COVID-19 suspicions. Although we cannot rule that out, what we know for now is that he started vomiting severely and was attended to by doctors who suspected food poisoning,” he said.
This comes at a time when internal squabbles are reportedly resurfacing in the ruling Zanu PF party.
Chiwenga is reportedly growing impatient with Mnangagwa after the Zanu PF leader’s under-fire administration is accused of massive corruption.
On Wednesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa brought Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) boss Isaac Moyo to Zanu PF’s politburo meeting to allegedly confront Chiwenga led faction in the ruling party, accused of sponsoring 31st July planned demonstrations.
Mnangagwa summoned Moyo to present an “intelligence report” about a purported plot against him, believed to have been commissioned by state security minister Owen Mudha Ncube.
The CIO boss said the plot was being spearheaded by Politburo member Claveria Chizema (Secretary for health, child care and the elderly) and former Mbare MP and businessman Tendai Savanhu.
Chiwenga attended the Politburo meeting and he was silently listening to the presentation by the CIO boss.
Chiwenga is a former army general who led a 2017 military coup that ousted late former president Robert Mugabe.
Shiri, who commanded the Airforce of Zimbabwe for 25 years until he joined the government in 2017, was a retired general who was among military chiefs who ousted Mugabe. Nehanda Radio