VP Chiwenga’s strongman leadership under scrutiny


Annahstacia Ndlovu

Bulawayo—Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s military style of leadership has come under a fresh bout of criticism following his chilling threat to physically harm parallel market foreign currency dealers.

This time, it took his own cousin, Talent Farai Chiwenga (39), an outspoken preacher who has openly spoken out against Zanu PF misrule, to blast the vice president, an ex-general who led a military coup that ousted the late Robert Mugabe in late 2017.

Talent F. Chiwenga

He claims to have escaped a road accident assassination attempt in June 2019 in which his wife died, and says he was forced to go into hiding in October 2021 to escape a State security raid.

The vice president and the apostle’s father were brothers.

The Vice President used a political gathering on 24 April to warn foreign dealers from continuing trading on the black market following the introduction of a new structured currency mainly backed by gold, the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG).

“We wouldn’t want you to end up being crippled after being attacked,” Chiwenga said in reference to the teeming parallel market dealers who ply their trade on Zimbabwe’s streets, taking advantage of the weak local currency that is exchanged for the much sought-after foreign currency, particularly the greenback, Rand and the Pula.

Since then, more than 400 foreign currency dealers have been arrested in controversial undercover sting operations and taken to court.

They include Neville, the son of a senior Zanu PF couple, Monica and Christopher Mutsvangwa—the Women’s Affairs minister and ruling party communications secretary, respectively.

Talent Chiwenga condemned the utterances by the vice president in a video shot after the latter’s utterances.

“It is sad we have such a development (Chiwenga’s threats) and it should be condemned. We condemn it with all the contempt that it deserves. It’s criminal. It’s an act of violence,” said the apostle.

“He is trusting to use the army to maim the people,” added the preacher, who urged soldiers to defy his orders to unleash violence on defenceless citizens.

He also remarked: “Mr Chiwenga is not fit to be a president. He must go back to his family and start to learn to be a family man…and learn to be a civil servant. He is no longer a military officer”.

The younger Chiwenga rapped the vice president for targeting foreign currency dealers while failing to act on soldiers and “criminals” who stole billions of dollars from Zimbabwe’s diamonds fields and public coffers.

In 2016, the late former president Robert Mugabe shocked the world when he said his government had “not received much from diamond earnings”, noting that they had realised some US$2 billion from “well over US$15 billion or more.”

Robert Mugabe


Critics blamed several diamond miners that included Chinese investors, the army and government entities for reportedly smuggling the precious mineral out of the country or diverting mining proceeds.

After President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over as the civilian face of the coup in 2017 from Mugabe with the help of Chiwenga and the military, several cabinet ministers have been arrested and taken to court for allegedly stealing millions, but their cases have fizzled out.

Despite the threats by Chiwenga, black market foreign currency traders who have been forced onto the streets by high unemployment, poverty and an ill-performing economy vowed to stay put.

Nokuthaba Shoko, a dealer from Bulawayo, the second capital, has been involved in foreign currency trade since the early 2000s when the economy went on a steep slide.

“l have been in this business for more than 20 years, Bulawayo is popularly known as World Bank because of its proximity to more than four borders and that makes it an attractive forex trading area. VP Chiwenga’s threats are a waste of time.

“We are not going anywhere. He will leave office and forex traders will still go on,” Shoko told NewsHub.

Said Norman Dube, another black market trader from Bulawayo: “Go to rural Matabeleland.They use foreign currency and the local currency is not accepted. VP Chiwenga must solve his leadership failure, keep his ZiG and leave us alone.”

Effort Ncube, a human rights activist, said the vice president’s threats were “criminal”.

“Threatening those suspected of having committed offences is in violation of the constitution of Zimbabwe and, therefore, completely unacceptable, regardless of whatever office it is coming from,” Ncube said.

He said Zimbabwean laws had no provision for physical punishment being meted out on people suspected of committing crimes, adding that every person is presumed innocent till proven guilty.

Vice President Chiwenga is believed to be interested in succeeding Mnangagwa when his second and final term ends in 2028.

Last week, a local publication reported that the Health ministry was battling to fix the “mess” caused by Chiwenga when, from August 2020, he doubled as the minister responsible for the portfolio.

Mnangagwa had hailed his deputy’s appointment during the Covid-19 pandemic, saying Chiwenga was a firm leader needed to instil discipline among citizens during the period.

Quoting unnamed sources, the publication said Chiwenga would make unprocedural proclamations that included the arbitrary firing of striking nurses and halting the issuance of clearance certificates to health employees who wished to relocate to other countries.

Unsubstantiated media reports have also indicated that Chiwenga plotted to declare a state of emergency following mass protests in 2019 while Mnangagwa was on a foreign trip but the plan is said to have been thwarted by Valerio Sibanda, his successor as Commander of the Defence Forces after the coup.

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Chiwenga showed intolerance for divergent political views when he threatened to crush the opposition like “lice”.

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