A contentious presidential election in Zimbabwe becomes violent after an explosion rocked the rally of candidate and current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
As reported by All Africa, a blast left 41 injured including top leaders in the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
Following Mnangagwa’s address to thousands at White Stadium in the city of Bulawayo, a nearby object exploded as he left the stage with his entourage. Footage of the incident shows that the bomb was inches from him.
Believed to be another assassination attempt on Mnangagwa’s life, he escaped without any injury. Dozens were not as fortunate, including important elected officials.
This afternoon, as we were leaving a wonderful rally in Bulawayo, there was an explosion on the stage. Several people were affected by the blast, and I have already been to visit them in the hospital.
— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) June 23, 2018
With some victims still hospitalized, injuries range from superficial to serious. Amongst the wounded are two of the country’s vice-presidents: Kembo Mohadi, who suffered a leg injury, while Constantino Chiwenga sustained bruises to his face. Also hurt, ZANU-PF party chairwoman Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, along with security and staff of the nation’s state-sponsored TV broadcasting station.
Mnanagagwa visited the hospital caring for those wounded. His fiercest opponent, Nelson Chimasa, the leader of National Patriotic Front (NPF), offered sympathies in a post via Twitter:
Terrible events at White City stadium. Our prayers go out to the injured and we hope no lives have been lost. Violence must have no place in our politics. May God bless and protect the country we all love.
Investigations of the bombing incident are still underway.
The Rocky Road to Democracy in a Post-Mugabe Era
At the moment, the road to a stable government evades Zimbabwe. Currently, 23 presidential candidates are in the running for an election scheduled for July 30, just eight months after the ouster of Mugabe.
After 37 years of rulership, Mugabe was forced to resign on November 21, 2017 under military pressure. Mnangagwa, who once served as the vice-president of Zimbabwe, was sworn in as head-of-state, soon after.
Mnangagwa has been adamant in moving forward in elections despite tensions that still run high following the departure of Mugabe.
“We will ensure that Zimbabwe delivers free, credible, fair and indisputable elections to ensure Zimbabwe engages the world as a qualified democratic state,” said Mnangagwa in an interview with The Herald in South Africa.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the office overseeing the elections has been accused of unfair treatment by some political parties. Reports said that some candidates were unable to enroll. In turn, the European Union has deployed to oversee elections.
Right before Mugabe left his position, Mnangagwa said that he was poisoned in October 2017, causing him to be airlifted to Johannesburg for medical care. Although the cause of poisoning is unknown, speculation of the Mugabes’ involvement has circulated.
Mugabe, once revered as an African revolutionary against European colonial authorities, left a legacy both clean and gritty. Towards the end of his presidency, allegations of corruption, intimidation and even torture allegations mar his legacy.
Before stepping down, Mugabe negotiated a package in which he received full immunity from prosecution and will get a $150,000 salary and full medical care until his death. His wife, Grace, is also covered under the terms of agreement, though she remains the center of disdain for many in the country for leading an extravagant lifestyle while many suffered as the Zimbabwe dollar plummeted. Mugabe, now 94, lives in a palatial home built in Harare during his presidency.
The Silk Road
Mugabe endorsed Chimasa who is part of a political party that is made up of formers members of Zanu-PF who left in disagreement of the ouster of Mugabe.
A major part of Chimasa’s platform is to remove Chinese investors. Said Chimasa, “We want genuine deals that benefit the people. These deals are not country, but individual deals and the new dispensation is busy exporting lies that they are a new dispensation.”
Ironically, for most of Mugabe’s tenure, his Administration negotiated many deals with China. In April, Zimbabwe brokered a deal with a group of Chinese billionaires to build a $7 billion tourism city in the southern African country. Mnangagwa said that the deal will help create a “bright future.”
The development is part of China’s long-standing economic relationship with Africa, and its aggressive plans to create a global trading route encompassing roads, water routes, air and railways.
Elections are still on schedule as the world watches a historic political event.