The 12 things that you missed from the White City grenade attack on President Mnangagwa

Paramedics carry off the injured from the blast at White City Stadium. Photo: Reuters

 

Zimbabwe Digital News

 

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa survived an apparent attempt on his life after a curious blast at a Zanu-PF rally on Saturday, while one of his vice-presidents, and several party officials were wounded.

Up to 50 other people were injured in the explosion during the election campaign in Zimbabwe’s second city Bulawayo.

Here are the 12 things that you missed from assassination attempt at White City Stadium

1. What President Mnangagwa said

“I am used to these attempts,” Mnangagwa said in his first comments on the explosion. He told state media that an object “exploded a few inches away from me — but it is not my time”. The “blast… has affected my vice-presidents — especially comrade Mohadi,” he added. President Mnangagwa insisted that the “country is peaceful” as Zimbabwe prepares to stage its first ever elections not to feature former president Robert Mugabe on July 30.
“Several people were affected by the blast, and I have already been to visit them in the hospital,” Mnangagwa wrote on his verified Facebook account describing the attack as a “senseless act of violence”. “The campaign so far has been conducted in a free and peaceful environment, and we will not allow this cowardly act to get in our way as we move towards elections.”

2. What the Zimbabwe Republic Police saying?

Zimbabwean police are offering a “substantial” reward for any information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the explosion at a Zanu-PF election rally in Bulawayo on Saturday‚ the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reported. ZBC quoted the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) sa saying at a media conference on Sunday afternoon that expert teams were firmly on the ground investigating the explosion and that a “substantial” reward was being offered to anyone with information leading to the arrest of the culprits. Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba assured the nation that investigations to ascertain what had transpired at the stadium were currently under way.

3. Who threw the grenade, why did he/she/they throw it?

Not clear. It may be days, weeks or months before this sort of information is made public, if ever. What is curious is the speed with which President Mnangagwa was giving interviews to the state-ZBC, literally – to the hour – of the assassination attempt.

There was no security protocol, and no word of the VIP protection details containing the situation before going public.

Ordinarily – common military sense would dictate – the VIP protection units would not have let anyone talk to – let alone know – where the President is (or was) until the threat of it had been determined. So many questions there…?

4. Was it a grenade, a bomb or fireworks? What was the intention

Not clear. Again it may be days, weeks or months before this sort of information is made public. But given the injuries, whatever it was, it was designed to (possibly kill) but cause damage and injuries. But also make the headline news, and cause confusion over the upcoming elections.

5. Zimbabwe elections

President Mnangagwa has promised peaceful free and fair, transparent and credible elections which are open to international, regional and local observers. The elections are 37 days away. President Mnangagwa was in Bulawayo to campaign for the July 30 elections. “People started running in all directions and then immediately the president’s motorcade left at a very high speed. Suddenly soldiers and other security details were all over the place,” said an AFP correspondent at the scene.

6. Bulawayo

The blast occurred at the White City Stadium in Bulawayo just minutes after President Mnangagwa had ended his campaign speech. The venue itself is the same curious site that precipitated the axing of then-vice president Mnangagwa after sections of the crowd booed then-President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace Mugabe. The booing so-incensed President Mugabe, who went into overdrive and publicly attacked Mnangagwa, threatening to dismiss him from his job, and subsequently dismissed him a day later. The rest is history, as it unfolds.

7. Timing

More curiosity. The elections are 37 days away. The elections are the first in Zimbabwe since President Robert Mugabe was forced out after 37 years in power.

8. The US Embassy in Harare tweeted “thoughts & prayers”

We condemn the attack at the ZANU-PF rally in Byo (this afternoon, Saturday). Political violence in any form is unacceptable & contrary to thepositive progress required to move Zim forward as it seeks to take its place on the global stage. Our thoughts & prayers go out to the victims & their families.

9. Britain. A statement attributed to the British Foreign office said:

We have seen the reports and videos of an explosion in Bulawayo at a ZANU rally. There is no place for any form of political violence in Zimbabwe. We want to express our sympathy and concern for all those who have been injured.

9. Movement for Democratic Change

President Mnangagwa’s main rival Nelson Chamisa condemned the violence tweeting: “Terrible events at White City stadium. Our prayers go out to the injured and we hope no lives have be lost. Violence must have no place in our politics. May God bless and protect the country we all love.”

10. Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation

The ZBC was immediately accused of fanning tribal tensions after reporter Reuben Barwe asked President Mnangagwa whether he suspected the “people of Bulawayo” to be behind the assassination attempt. The ZBC had earlier described the blast as “an assassination attempt”. State media reported that ZANU-PF chairwoman and cabinet minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and the wife of the other vice-president, retired General Constantino Chiwenga, Mary Chiwenga were injured, he said, as was deputy parliament speaker Mabel Chinomona. ZBC reported that the ZANU-PF party secretary in charge of political organisation, Engelbert Rugeje, was injured.

11. President Cyril Ramaphosa, SADC, African National Congress

Speaking as the Chair of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)‚ Ramaphosa said acts of violence and criminalities had no place in the democratic process of any sovereign state within the SADC region. Ramaphosa said it was vital that the political and security situation in Zimbabwe remained stable in the run-up to the general elections to be held on July 30. The president concluded by saying that the SADC would evaluate the incident and take appropriate steps.
The African National Congress condemned the bomb blasts on Saturday at a Zanu PF rally in White City Stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and the deadly blast at a rally in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
“The bomb explosion missed the President of Zimbabwe Emerson Mnangagwa by a few inches while Zanu PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and many others were left injured,” ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said.
“These coward and barbaric acts have no place towards a peaceful, prosperous, and integrated Africa that is transforming and seeks to accelerate initiatives for growth and sustainable development. They must be utterly condemned and not be allowed to spread and to be assimilated anywhere,” Mabe said.

12. The African Union

In a statement, Chairperson of the Commission of AU, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said his organisation strongly condemned the “cowardly bomb attack”. In a statement he reiterated the call for a successful presidential, parliamentary and local elections scheduled for July 30 in Zimbabwe. AU has already deployed a five-person independent electoral assessment mission in Zimbabwe, as the country gears up for the 30 July elections to provide technical support to the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission.

 

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa greets supporters before an explosion at an election rally in Bulawayo on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

 

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