State protection for Zimbabwe’s presidential hopefuls after blast
The country’s vice-president brushes off the ‘act of terrorism’ and assures citizens that the July 30 election will go ahead as planned
Harare — All 23 presidential candidates contesting June’s election in Zimbabwe will receive state protection, following an explosion that killed one person and injured at least 50 on Saturday, at White City stadium in Bulawayo.
This is according to state media reports on Monday quoting vice-president Constantino Chiwenga, who addressed a rally in Chitungwiza on Sunday. The bomb blast targeted several Zanu-PF leaders.
Chiwenga also ruled out the possibility of the election being postponed.
At the weekend 44 long-term EU observers were dispatched to Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces, where they will stay until after the elections. It is the first time in 16 years that they have been allowed in the country.
“Zimbabwe is going for a new trajectory; a Zimbabwe we want, a Zimbabwe which the people of Zimbabwe want. The harmonised elections, come July 30, will go ahead. That act of terrorism which happened in Bulawayo is nothing, it does not deter us. But if the colleagues running for harmonised elections on July 30 are afraid and scared, they will be given security. The police will hunt down the criminal or those criminals and they will be brought before the law,” Chiwenga was quoted as saying.
The police have offered “a substantial reward” to members of the public to step forward with information that could help establish the persons behind the attack.
Vice-president Kembo Mohadi; Zanu-PF chairwoman Oppah Muchinguri; Chiwenga’s wife, Mary; Zanu-PF national political commissar Engelbert Rugeje and deputy speaker of parliament Mabel Chinomona were some of the high-profile persons injured.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the missile, which appears to have been thrown as he left the podium, landed “inches” away from him.
In an appearance on the state broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Mnangagwa said it was the seventh attempt on his life from his “usual” enemies. “It was not my time. They will go before me.”
Previous attempts on his life have included poisoning, break-ins at his office, car accidents and the sprinkling of cyanide on his desk.
The attack has been widely condemned by other presidential hopefuls.
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa said it was “terrible” and that violence “had no place” in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, ZBC reporter Reuben Barwe, who interviewed Mnangagwa after the incident, has come under fire for asking him whether he suspected the people of Bulawayo to have been behind the attack.
Historically an uneasy calm exists between Mnangagwa and residents of the country’s second largest city, dating back to the civil conflict of the mid-1980s. Thousands of civilians were killed in what is commonly known as “Gukurahundi”. Mnangagwa was the then minister of state.
Mnangagwa did not believe his enemies were from Bulawayo. According to him, the city had given him a resounding welcome for the rally.