HARARE June 23 – Fifteen people were reportedly injured when an explosion rocked Zanu PF candidate and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s campaign rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday afternoon.
Who do you suspect for this foul play? Surely when a president comes to speak anywhere the police sweeps the place first? # pic.twitter.com/gThj6alKzZ
— Zwelinzima Vavi (@Zwelinzima1) June 23, 2018
The injured reportedly included Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Zanu PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinnguri-Kashiri, who is also water, environment, and climate minister, Zanu PF national political commissar Engelbert Rugeje, and a number of VIP security officers.
Initially, presidential spokesman George Charamba said Mohadi was not injured. Asked to confirm the number of injured, Charamba curtly said, “Later on.” The injured were taken to Mpilo Central and Mater Dei hospitals in the city. Security at the hospitals has been tightened. Reports of deaths in the blast have been dismissed.
Opposition MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa described the events at White City Stadium as “terrible”, saying, “Our prayers go out to the injured and we hope no lives have been lost. Violence must have no place in our politics. May God bless and protect the country we all love.”
After the blast, Mnangagwa urged the country to “continue to be united and address our differences peacefully”.
“The strongest response to violence is peace. The strongest response to hate is love,” he wrote on his official Twitter account. Mnangagwa said he had visited those affected by the blast, and described it as a “senseless act of violence”.
Mnangagwa survived the bomb blast seconds after he and the Zanu PF top hierarchy left the stage. The explosion occurred at a corner of the stage.
“President Mnangagwa has not been injured and is at Bulawayo State House,” Charamba said earlier on Saturday, adding investigations were under way and more details would be made available later. “There have been multiple attempts on the president’s life over the past five years,” he said.
A video circulating on social media shows Mnangagwa, Mohadi, Charamba, and other VIPs had just got off the stage when the explosion happened. Pictures show several people lying on the ground, apparently injured, with others being carried on stretchers or being attended to. The area around the stage was immediately cordoned off as explosives experts collected evidence.
Mnangagwa reportedly survived an attempt on his life last year when he ate poisoned food at a rally at Phelandaba Stadium in Gwanda, a small town about 550km southwest of the capital. (ANA)