Zimbabwe’s vice president Retired General Constantino Chiwenga says he has a rare skin whitening disease, which attacked him last November when he was with some commanders of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces while they were undertaking what former president Robert Mugabe has described as a military coup.
According to the privately-owned NewsDay newspaper, Chiwenga dismissed suggestions by some members of the public that he is using bleaching substances to lighten his skin.
Some people on social media have nicknames him Bleachy Chiwenga and General Ambi. The bleaching cream was banned in Zimbabwe in the 1970s because of the health risks it posed.
Chiwenga told mourners at his late sister Margaret Machekabuwe’s funeral that he is currently taking some medications to rectify the health condition.
“Let me say this since the media are here. During Operation Restore Legacy, I was with General (Phillip Valerio) Sibanda, he is a great man as you see him. I also called (Police Commissioner-General Godwin) Matanga (to the meeting). Unfortunately, I fell very sick while in their company.
“This is what caused my sickness to the extent of having a light skin. I was affected all over the body, and the papers said I am applying a skin lightening cream.”
Chiwenga noted that he is taking herbs sourced from a nun of the Roman Catholic Church.
“We could not find treatment even in South Africa to cure the ailment and Margaret went to a sister (Roman Catholic nun) and got some herbs that I was taking and I survived … But before the herbs, they would say let us pray first.”