from NDABENI MLOTSHWA in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
BULAWAYO, (CAJ News) –ZIMBABWE’S President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, his deputies and senior government officials have survived what is believed to be an assassination attempt following a bomb explosion in the second capital Bulawayo on Saturday afternoon.
Mnangagwa was unhurt but his deputy, Kembo Mohadi, and ruling party chairperson, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also a cabinet minister, suffered injuries following the explosion at a packed White City Stadium, with a capacity of 15 000.
Another vice president, Constantino Chiwenga, is also reported to have suffered minor injuries.
Mnangagwa had moments earlier addressed a rally of his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) when the explosion occurred near the stage.
The Presidential Guard whisked Mnangagwa and his Chiwenga to the Bulawayo State House where they took refugee while the military and the Red Cross Society evacuated an unspecified number of injured civilians to the Mpilo and Mater Dei Hospitals in the city.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Learn Ncube, Bulawayo Provincial Police Commanding Officer, confirmed the blast and injuries.
He declined to shed more light on the incident, telling CAJ News Africa: “All I can say for now police investigations into the matter have commenced.”
There were no immediate comment from presidential spokesman, George Charamba, but state media quoted him as saying Mnangagwa was unharmed and was at Bulawayo State House.
“Investigations are underway and more details will be given to the public. There have been multiple attempts on the President’s life over the past five years,” Charamba is quoted.
It could not be ascertained if the alleged assassination attempt emanated from the factionalism within ZANU-PF after the ouster of longtime leader, Robert Mugabe, by the military last November.
Mnangagwa has previously been heckled in Bulawayo, by the Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP), a secessionist opposition demanding autonomy from the rest of the country, alleging marginalization of the southern region.
Mnangagwa, then as State Security Minister, is said to be one of the masterminds of the atrocities that claimed thousands of civilians in the region during the early 1980s.
About 20,000 people in Bulawayo and the entire Matabeleland and Midlands provinces were massacred during the Gukurahundi.