‘It was not my time,’ says ED as he points to his ‘usual enemies’
● Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said “it was not my time” after he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt yesterday in an explosion at White City Stadium in Bulawayo, where he had just finished addressing thousands of party supporters at a rally in the country’s second-largest city.
Mnangagwa said he believed it was not Bulawayo residents who were behind the attempt on his life, as he had received a resounding welcome in the city.
“It exploded a few inches away from me, but it is not my time. Those who are trying are likely to go before me. It’s my usual enemies . . . people outside of Bulawayo. They tried poisoning me in August last year, sending cyanide to my office — all these things I have survived,” he said.
Unconfirmed speculation was that at least two people — believed to be Mnangagwa’s aides — died in the blast. Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, who sustained a leg injury, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s wife, Mary, Zanu-PF chairwoman Oppah Muchinguri, deputy speaker of parliament Mabel Chimona and media crew who were near the VIP tent, are among the injured.
Mary and other VIPs were admitted to Mater Dei Hospital. A source at Mpilo General Hospital said 25 people, out of which two were critical, with most suffering limb losses, were treated at the hospital.
Mnangagwa, accompanied by his deputy Chiwenga, was seen visiting some of the injured at the hospital.
The incident has marred the campaign ahead of Zimbabwe’s July 30 national poll, which Mnangagwa, 75, has stressed must be free of violence.
“The campaign . . . has been peaceful, it’s been free . . . and democratic . . .”
A source said a device could have “been detonated using a mobile phone” and was meant to have gone off when Mnangagwa was getting off the podium.
A family member who spoke to Sunday Times said: “The most important thing is that my father is alive and it is regrettable that there were people injured and also two aides were seriously injured.”
Mnangagwa has been the victim of several assassination attempts over the past few years, the most recent of which was his poisoning at a rally in Gwanda. This was at the height of the factional fights between the Generation 40 and Lacoste factions in ZanuPF, with each angling to take over from former president Robert Mugabe.
“I think it [the explosion] was targeted at the VIPs, I have never seen anything like this and it’s bad for local politics because this is the single most brutal violence as yet,” said a Zanu-PF politician who spoke to the Sunday Times on condition of anonymity.
Soon after Mugabe appointed Mnangagwa Zimbabwe’s vice-president in 2014, forensic experts investigating a break-in at Mnangagwa’s office found cyanide. He also survived a mysterious car accident.
The latest attempt on his life is certain to stoke political tensions.
Opposition leaders condemned the blast and urged a refrain from violence.
Nelson Chamisa, widely seen as Mnangagwa’s most formidable political opponent, said the explosion was “terrible” and “violence must have no place in our politics”.
Pastor Evan Mawarire, who came to prominence during his #ThisFlag protest and is an independent candidate for Harare’s city council, said the incident was a wound.
Locals walk past the White City Stadium where Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa escaped unhurt after an explosion rocked the stadium, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.