All is calm in Zim­babwe af­ter rally blast

Sunday Express - - AFRICA -

HARARE — “It is calm, nor­mal in Harare.” And that calm con­tin­ued af­ter Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa told the BBC on Tues­day that he be­lieved his “en­e­mies” in the G40 fac­tion in Zanu-PF had ex­ploded a de­vice to kill him in Bulawayo last Satur­day.

Zanu-PF was mas­sively split be­tween two fac­tions, and the G40s sup­ported Robert Mu­gabe con­tin­u­ing in power, even as he turned 93 last year. Some of them hoped his wife, Grace, would suc­ceed him should he die in of­fice or choose to re­tire.

Grace Mu­gabe led the charge against Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa and he was sacked from of­fice last Oc­to­ber, fled to South Africa and re­turned home af­ter a soft coup d’etat. He was sworn into of­fice nearly seven months ago.

So far, there have been no ar­rests. Mnan­gagwa did not blame former first lady Grace Mu­gabe per­son­ally, but he said his “en­e­mies” in Zanu-PF could be con­sid­ered re­spon­si­ble for the blast.

De­spite the bomb, just six weeks ahead of elec­tions, all re­mains calm in Zim­babwe at present.

“There are no af­ter-ef­fects here from the ex­plo­sion. Our teams out in the field also say it is calm and that they have not en­coun­tered any dis­rup­tions or ha­rass­ment,” said El­dred Ma­sunugure, vet­eran po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at the Univer­sity of Zim­babwe, who also runs the Mass Pub­lic Opin­ion In­sti­tute, which con­ducts sur­veys, in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal polls.

It re­cently pub­lished its find­ings for the long es­tab­lished Afro­barom­e­ter po­lit­i­cal sur­vey on Zim­babwe’s up­com­ing elec­tions, which pre­dicted that Mr Mnan­gagwa would win the pres­i­den­tial poll in the first round. But he cau­tioned that 26 per­cent of those ap­proached would not dis­close who they would vote for.

Presently MPOI has teams out around the coun­try col­lect­ing data to up­date the sur­vey pub­lished last month.

“It is a le­git­i­mate mes­sage for Mnan­gagwa to say he sus­pects that G40 would be the engi­neers be­hind the ex­plo­sion. But the ev­i­dence still has to be pre­sented to link that crim­i­nal act to G40. It is com­mon cause that what hap­pened last Satur­day is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the in­tra Zanu-PF strug­gles and G40 were part of all that equa­tion. So it looks like a con­tin­u­a­tion of that.”

He also said that Zanu-PF have had a “bit­ter in­ter­nal strug­gle” which was “yet to be com­pleted…there is un­fin­ished busi­ness within Zanu-PF. But we can­not rule out that this was a ‘lone wolf ’ in the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion and that this per­son is an in­te­gral part of the erup­tions and strug­gles still go­ing on within Zanu-PF.”

He said he doubted the ex­plo­sion would change any po­lit­i­cal opin­ions in Zim­babwe.

Ma­su­nun­gure also said that the Mu­gabe fam­ily had dis­ap­peared from pub­lic view. It was be­lieved the former pres­i­dent was still in Sin­ga­pore hav­ing med­i­cal treat­ment and Grace Mu­gabe was help­ing to look af­ter him in Sin­ga­pore. Grace Mu­gabe be­came as­ton­ish­ingly wealthy dur­ing the last few years of her hus­band’s rule.

She and her three chil­dren live ex­trav­a­gant lives in Harare, far in ex­cess of what­ever Robert Mu­gabe earned in 37 years in power.

The small bomb ex­ploded at the end of Mnan­gagwa’s rally at sta­dium in Bulawayo, where there is some hos­til­ity to­wards him be­cause of his role as se­cu­rity min­is­ter af­ter 1980 in­de­pen­dence when Mu­gabe or­dered a North Korean-trained brigade to rout the then-op­po­si­tion. Thou­sands were killed and fled the coun­try.

Former Zanu-PF spokesman, Ru­gare Gumbo, an early vic­tim of Zanu-PF when it was fight­ing a war against white-ruled Rhode­sia in the 1970’s, and who was ex­pelled from the party four years ago, said: “We heard Mnan­gagwa clearly say that his en­e­mies are in Harare. He was quick to say his en­e­mies were not in Bulawayo, but we can’t jump to any con­clu­sions. It is a mys­tery. Some say it is an in­side job.

“Of course, the best known G40 mem­bers lost their jobs and were ex­pelled from the party and yes, Grace Mu­gabe was part of that fac­tion. So many of them were an­gry, but she is in Sin­ga­pore ac­cord­ing to the news in Harare at present, with her sick hus­band.

“If they knew who had done it they would have ar­rested them, but Mnan­gagwa has made it clear he be­lieves that who­ever did it was from the G40 fac­tion in Zanu-PF. If Mu­gabe had been in power many would have been ar­rested and tor­tured, that was his style.

“So I am re­lieved that ED (Mnan­gagwa is known to many by his ini­tials) af­ter the in­ci­dent says he plans to han­dle the mat­ter as a crim­i­nal of­fence.

“So far all is calm, and so far no one has been ar­rested and we do not yet know what type of ex­plo­sion it was. ED says we will go on to­wards elec- tions nor­mally. We all hope this con­tin­ues.”

Af­ter the ex­plo­sion, G40’s most out­spo­ken leader, Jonathan Moyo, sent sev­eral tweets from ex­ile: “...Zanu PF bomb is a tragic re­minder that the coup govern­ment can’t be trusted to over­see free, fair and cred­i­ble elec­tions. The coup is still in progress dic­tated by the vi­o­lence and im­punity that has dogged Zim­babwe since 1980 and now pos­ing an ex­is­ten­tial threat to the coun­try…..” @ProfJNMoyo He has not yet re­sponded to the ac­cu­sa­tions by Mr Mnan­gagwa that his fac­tion from Zanu PF were prime sus­pects.

The elec­tions on July 30 will be for a new pres­i­dent, par­lia­ment, senate and lo­cal govern­ment.

Mnan­gagwa’s most se­ri­ous chal­lenge is from Nel­son Chamisa, 40, pres­i­dent of the op­po­si­tion MDC Al­liance, a group­ing of sev­eral anti Zanu-PF par­ties. But the MDC is short of cash, and the rul­ing Zanu-PF has masses of new ve­hi­cles, vast pos­ter­ing and gifts for vot­ers. If the elec­tions are con­sid­ered free and fair by mainly Western ob­servers, many say Zim­babwe will re­ceive in­ter­na­tional help to re­pay its debt and bor­row more to fix its crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture.

Lead­ing the chal­lenge for Zim­babwe to hold ‘free and fair’ elec­tions is UK’s am­bas­sador to Zim­babwe Catriona Laing. Laing is in South Africa this week, brief­ing diplo­mats and jour­nal­ists about her hopes that the polls will be widely seen as ac­cept­able to end the coun­try’s iso­la­tion and ex­tra­or­di­nary debt and in­abil­ity to earn enough for­eign money to im­port what it needs to keep the mines and even agri­cul­ture go­ing.

— In­de­pen­dent For­eign Ser­vice

CALM con­tin­ued in Zim­babwe af­ter Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa said he be­lieved his “en­e­mies” in the G40 fac­tion had ex­ploded a de­vice to kill him.

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