Zimbabwean president escapes injury ‘by inches’ in blast attack

Explosion follows similar incident at a political rally in Ethiopia on the same day

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa escaped injury in an explosion at a political rally on Saturday (June 24), and vowed the "cowardly act" would not derail Zimbabwe's first election since the ouster of former strongman Robert Mugabe. Several people were injured in the attack.

 

Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa is safe after an explosion at a stadium in Bulawayo where he was addressing a rally before next month’s elections, according to his spokesman.

“It sounded just like gunfire,” said spokesman George Charamba on Saturday. “It appears to be an explosive device.”

Zimbabwe goes to the polls on July 30th, the first since independence without Robert Mugabe at the helm, after he was forced to step down after almost 40 years in power. The blast happened as Mr Mnangagwa had finished addressing thousands of people, Associated Press reported, citing witnesses.

“’It exploded a few inches from me, but it is not my time,” Mr Mnangagwa said in comments carried by the state-owned broadcaster in which he urged unity. “It’s just an element of defeatists. The country is peaceful.”

The attack on Mr Mnangagwa came after a blast on Saturday at a rally in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, only minutes after prime minister Abiy Ahmed had addressed tens of thousands of supporters on Saturday.

Several people were injured in the Zimbabwe explosion – including two vice-presidents and a minister – and have been taken to hospital, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported on its website.

The area around the stage has been cordoned off and evidence is being collected, the Harare-based Herald said, describing the blast as an attempt on the president’s life. Mr Mnangagwa has had multiple attempts on his life, it cited Mr Charamba as saying. – Bloomberg