Two confirmed dead from Bulawayo grenade attack, explosives experts comb White City Stadium for clues

The chaotic scenes that followed the grenade blast at Bulawayo's White City Stadium. Photo: Reuters

 

Zimbabwe Digital News

Two people have been confirmed dead, and Bulawayo’s White City Stadium has been turned into a no-go-area as Zimbabwean security officers continued to comb the scene of the weekend’s bomb attack for leads.
Newspapers reported throughout the day on Monday that part of the investigation team at the stadium included forensic specialists and explosives experts, who are sifting for clues to what is being viewed as an assassination attempt on the life of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
When reporters visited the stadium on Monday afternoon, the scene had been cordoned off with over a dozen, vigilant armed security personnel from the army and police trying to gather as much evidence as possible to assist the investigating team get to the bottom of the matter.
A yellow crime scene tape had been rolled out to cordon off the scene with the VIIP stage yet to be dismantled.
Analysts in South Africa have described the bomb attack at White City an isolated incident, not an indicator of what lies ahead.
According to analyst Gary van Staden at NKC Daily Africa Insight, intelligence sources on Monday had dismissed speculation that internal rivalry between elements of the security establishment was behind the attack on President Mnangagwa at the Zanu-PF rally at White City Stadium.
They suggested President Mnangagwa was not exactly the most popular man in Matabeleland, but left the motive for the blast open.
At last count, 49 people were injured, including both vice presidents Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga with slight leg and facial injuries. Media reports stated that a security officer had to have a leg amputated after the blast.

For decades President Mnangagwa has been thought to be the political commissar of the notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade and linked to the slaughter of thousands of Matabele in the 1980s in what many regarded as an ethnic cleansing exercise. Many in the region still blame President Mnangagwa for the atrocities and Harare sources said that this resentment provided a strong motive that could not be ruled out.

Speculation, and more speculation

Others were speculating that ongoing and rising tensions between the police and the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) on one side and the military were behind what has been characterised as an assassination attempt.
The incident remains under investigation, but it is true that President Mnangagwa and Vice President Chiwenga have been looking at ways to dilute the power of the police and CIO. These two organisations were at odds with the military even in former President Robert Mugabe’s days – often violently so.
The key issues are that the incident will not delay the elections scheduled for the end of July and it does not appear to be the harbinger of things to come – though if the incident was an assassination attempt and it had succeeded, then Zimbabwe would have been plunged into chaos.

Whatever the motives and agenda, the incident provides a welcome wake-up call to Mr Mnangagwa’s security detail to rein in their charge and limit unscheduled and unsecured stops at friends’ chicken outlets, for example, and take better care at rallies and other public engagements.

Zanu-PF is not a universally popular party and has much blood on its hands. President Mnangagwa is regarded as complicit, so he has enemies – without and within. The region cannot afford an implosion in Zimbabwe.

According to Hasnain Malik, Strategist and Head of Equity Research, the main uncertainties now are whether the reaction to the attack includes a crackdown on dissent and political rivals in the name of security or a delay in the election. The need for external capital may act as a restraint on that sort of reaction.

Beyond the competition between President Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF and Chamisa’s MDC-T in the upcoming election, there are two long standing tensions in Zimbabwe: first, within ZANU-PF, between Mnangagwa’s Lacoste faction and Mugabe’s G40 factions, with an undertone of tribal tension between Karanga and Zezuru.

 

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