For better or for worse: Chiwenga marries long-time soldier lover

HARARE – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has married his long-time lover Miniyothabo Baloyi, the presidency announced on Wednesday.

The two lovebirds exchanged their vows during a private ceremony attended by family and a few friends last Sunday, ZimLive understands.

The 46-year-old Baloyi, a colonel in the Zimbabwe National Army, runs a high-end boutique in Harare. She is now a breath away from becoming Zimbabwe’s first lady.

In a statement, cabinet secretary Misheck Sibanda said: “President Mnangagwa wishes to inform the nation that Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has tied the knot with his partner Colonel Miniyothabo Baloyi.”

Sibanda said Mnangagwa and his wife Auxillia “wish the couple a lifelong partnership full of love and affection.”

The two were romantically involved while Chiwenga, 65, was legally married to his second wife, the former model Marry Mubaiwa.

Chiwenga’s divorce from Mubaiwa – the mother of three of his children – went through at the Harare High Court in February this year, clearing the way for him to marry Baloyi.

Baloyi, the daughter of a headmaster, grew up in Sabhabha in Filabusi, Matabeleland South, and attended nearby Ekusileni Mission and JZ Moyo High School for her secondary education.

Friends said she was a “top 10” in class but had a “difficult upbringing.”

“She grew up with a stepmother and lacked a lot of comfort items at school. It affected her. She persevered though, and her application to schoolwork helped her to make a life out of a difficult situation,” one told ZimLive.

Described as “quiet” and “reserved”, Baloyi played netball at school and sang in the scripture union.

“She was not a religious fundamentalist, but she connected with God,” another friend said. “For the most part, she was part of the team, she associated with everyone.”

She joined the army after high school in 1996 and then pursued further studies – first earning a degree in Chinese and two master’s degrees – one in business administration and a second in international relations.

In 2019, after Chiwenga was airlifted to China for lengthy treatment, Baloyi – who is not believed to have any children – was one of a handful of people allowed to visit him, this after he banished Mubaiwa, who would later be charged over an alleged plot to kill him in a South African hospital.

In 2020, when ZimLive broke the story of Chiwega’s romance with Baloyi, military sources insisted she was “not a distinguished soldier” after she was rapidly promoted to the rank of colonel, apparently helped by her relationship with Chiwenga, who was the Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander until November 2017 when he led a military coup that ousted strongman Robert Mugabe.

Second Lady … Military sources say Miniyothabo Baloyi, a soldier, was rapidly promoted through the ranks as affair with Constantino Chiwenga blossomed

Chiwenga has been condemned for his treatment of ex-wife Mubaiwa, to whom he was customarily married in 2011 after he divorced his first wife, Jocelyn.

The divorce from Jocelyn brought Chiwenga’s skeletons tumbling out of the closet, almost literally, after she claimed he kept a coffin in their home and also had some voodoo paraphernalia like animal tails and beads locked away in a safe.

Accusing Chiwenga of being “abusive”, Jocelyn added: “He doesn’t know how to say ‘I’m sorry’, or ‘please’.”

Mubaiwa divorced her footballer husband, Shingayi Kawondera, to be with Chiwenga.

Chiwenga, after returning from treatment in China, caused Mubaiwa’s arrest on December 14, 2019, after accusing her of trying to kill him in a South African hospital in July that year. She was also charged with money laundering, fraud and the assault of their former child-minder.

In April, Mubaiwa was convicted of fraud and false representation after Chiwenga took the witness stand to accuse her of attempting to upgrade their marriage from a customary union to a civil marriage without his knowledge as he lay sick.

Mubaiwa, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoedema which has caused large open wounds on both forearms, has not seen her minor children with Chiwenga in over two years. She accuses Chiwenga of manipulating the legal process to block her many court applications to receive urgent treatment in South Africa.

Baloyi has been described as “brave” online for getting hitched to Chiwenga, whose vindictiveness and apparent emotional detachment haunted his previous two marriages.

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