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Constantine Chiwenga (President McCain)

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Constantine Chiwenga
Constantine Chiwenga
Official portrait.
President of Zimbabwe
Term of office:
May 4, 2009
Preceded by: Robert Mugabe
Succeeded by: Morgan Tsvangirai
Born: August 25, 1956
Flag of Southern Rhodesia Wedza, Southern Rhodesia
Died: May 4, 2009 (age 52)
Flag of Zimbabwe Harare, Zimbabwe
Military service
Allegiance: Flag of Zimbabwe Republic of Zimbabwe
Service/branch: Flag of the Zimbabwe National Army Zimbabwe National Army
Years of service: 1973 – 2009
Rank: General General of the Zimbabwe National Army
Commands: Zimbabwe Defence Forces
Battles/wars:Invasion of Zimbabwe (2009)

General Constantine Guveya Chiwenga (August 25, 1956 – May 4, 2009) was a General of the Zimbabwe National Army who served as Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces from his appointment to his death. He led the Zimbabwe Defence Forces during the CODAMIZ invasion of Zimbabwe in April 2009, but was unable to fight off the invading coalition forces.

On May 3, 2009 he was appointed by Robert Mugabe as his successor, and became President following the death of Mugabe in the early hours on May 4, 2009. As president, he announced that Zimbabwe would honour Mugabe's legacy by fighting to the end. However, his term was short-lived, being killed in a firefight between U.S. soldiers and Zimbabwean soldiers at a checkpoint as he attempted to escape Harare.


Early life and military career

Constantine Guveya Chiwenga was born in Wedza, Southern Rhodesia on August 25, 1956. Chiwenga joined the liberation struggle at the age of 17 and received military training in Zambia and Tanzania. In 1974 he was appointed member of the Zanla General Staff and rose to become a member of Zanla High Command as deputy commissar in 1978. During the ceasefire period, Gen Chiwenga was appointed to the ceasefire monitoring team assigned to Manicaland in January 1980 before moving to Masvingo in June.

He joined the Zimbabwe National Army in August 1980 and was posted to headquarters of the 1 Brigade as a senior staff officer. In March 1981, he attended and passed a senior officers orientation course at KGV1 Barracks before being commissioned as a brigadier on April 16. He was later appointed Commander of 1 Brigade in July of the same year. Following his successful completion of the intermediate staff course at the Zimbabwe Staff College in December 1984, Gen Chiwenga was appointed Commander of 5 Brigade.

In October 1987 he was appointed Brigadier-General at the army headquarters until his promotion to the rank of major general, where he became the Chief of Staff (Administration and Quartermaster). He was later promoted to lieutenant general in 1994, taking over from Gen. Vitalis Zvinavashe as the Commander of the ZNA when the general was promoted to become the first Commander of the ZDF. Under the new structure, the defence forces were divided into two branches, the army and the air force, with their commanders reporting to the Commander of the Defence Forces.

In December 2003, Chiwenga , was appointed the Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces. His elevation followed the retirement of General Vitalis Zvinavashe, who became the first commander of the Defence Forces in 1993.

Zimbabwean unrest in 2009

Invasion of Zimbabwe in 2009

Main article: Invasion of Zimbabwe (2009)

At a ceremony at the State House in Harare on April 28, Mugabe named Gen. Constantine Chiwenga as his successor in case he was killed.

Presidency and death

At 03:56 A.M., U.S. Rangers and Lt.Col. Thorneloe of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards found the dead body of Robert Mugabe with a gunshot on his right temple. According to initial observations by CODAMIZ soldiers, he had committed suicide by shooting himself with a golden Makarov PM semi-automatic pistol, which was found close to the body. This claim was later supported by non-partisan investigators later on. However, neither Mnangagwa nor Gen. Chiwenga were located at the State House.

Twenty minutes later, Chiwenga was notified of the death of President Robert Mugabe. He was subsequently sworn in a private seremony at 04:38 A.M. When international news agencies received rumors of his death two hours later, and statements by Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence that Mugabe had committed suicide during the assault on the State House, they were unconfirmed and confusion still existed for several hours until 09:20 A.M., when Gen. Chiwenga, having succeeded Mugabe as president, announced that "our great leader, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, was killed last night while fighting off the Imperialist invaders. We will honour his legacy by fighting to the end."

While most remaining Zimbabwean soldiers now surrendered to CODAMIZ soldiers or to armed supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change — Tsvangirai, small pockets continued to fight the CODAMIZ forces. By late afternoon on May 4 the last shots were fired in resistance to the CODAMIZ forces in Harare. One American soldier was killed at noon while clearing a final ZANU-PF stronghold.

As the last ZANU-PF and military stronghold were being cleared by CODAMIZ forces in Harare, the final elements of the Mugabe regime were eliminated or captured. In the chaos of the collapse of the Mugabe regime, Gen. Chiwenga attempted to escape Harare along with his personal staff and guards by two staff cars. However, at a checkpoint located in the northeast of the city they were fired upon at 01:30 P.M. by U.S. soldiers of the when they failed to respond to requests to stop. The cars was damaged by machine gun fire, and a firefight ensued between the Zimbabwean soldiers and U.S. soldiers. Six minutes into the firefight, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga was shot five times in the chest and was killed spontaneously.

He was later identified by U.S. soldiers after the remaining Zimbabwean soldiers had been killed or had surrendered to the Americans.

See also

Offices held

Political offices
Coat of arms of Zimbabwe Preceded by:
Robert Mugabe

President of Zimbabwe
May 4, 2009

Succeeded by:
Morgan Tsvangirai
(Provisional Government Authority)
Military offices
Flag of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Preceded by:
Gen. Vitalis Zvinavashe

Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
December 2003 - May 4, 2009

Succeeded by:
Lt.Gen. P. V. Sibanda
Flag of the Zimbabwe National Army Preceded by:
Gen. Vitalis Zvinavashe

Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army
December 1994 - December 2003

Succeeded by:
Lt.Gen. P. V. Sibanda

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