Two people have succumbed to injuries sustained following the explosion that rocked Bulawayo’s White City stadium shortly after Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa had finished addressing a Zanu-PF rally on Saturday.
Mnangagwa escaped unharmed but authorities say 49 people were injured, including Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Zanu-PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s wife Marry Chiwenga, the ruling party’s national political commissar retired Lieutenant-General Engelbrecht Rugeje and Zanu-PF Women’s League secretary Mabel Chinomona were injured.
The two people who died had been admitted at Bulawayo’s Mpilo Central hospital.
The hospital’s clinical director, Dr Solwayo Ngwenyam said one person died on Sunday night and the other one today. “Two people have since died,” he said.
Security agencies are still carrying out investigations and no arrests have been made so far.
Observers have noted that prior to the blast, political campaigns ahead of the country’s July 30 harmonised polls had been peaceful, a departure from the era of Robert Mugabe where violence was always a feature.
Since taking over after Mugabe resigned last November, Mnangagwa has been preaching peace and re-engaging Western powers.
Hours after the blast, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe’s election campaign has so far been conducted in a free and peaceful environment, and his administration would not allow “this cowardly act” to get in the way.
“Let us continue to be united and address our differences peacefully. The strongest response to violence is peace. The strongest response to hate is love,” wrote Mnangagwa on his Facebook page.
Mnangagwa’s deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, described the attack as an act of terrorism.
He said Zanu-PF will not suspend its campaigns and security will be provided for all presidential hopefuls who may need it.
“The act of terrorism that happened in Bulawayo is nothing, it does not deter anyone but if colleagues running for the harmonised elections on the 30th of July are afraid we will give them security,” he said.
Chiwenga said everyone must continue to campaign peacefully as Zimbabwe wants to register an election which is free, violence-free and credible.
“Zimbabwe is going for a new trajectory, a Zimbabwe we want, a Zimbabwe which the people of Zimbabwe want. The harmonised elections, come 30th of July, will go ahead,” he said.
The United Nations, the African Union, SADC, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and South Africa have condemned the attack.
Political analyst and Tshwane University of Technology senior lecturer Ricky Mukonza, said Mnangagwa, who has previously survived assassination attempts’, could still be at risk of another attempt on his life.
“These enemies could either be internal or external. Internal because the party is from a power transition where the military had to intervene for the previous leader to step down and this could have created enemies for Mnangagwa and his fellow leaders. If this is true, we may see more of these attempts on the President’s life in the future. This could also have been as a result of attacks by external enemies of the current leadership, although this is most unlikely,” he said. “It is possible that those competing for political power within Zanu-PF in the coming elections may have wanted to eliminate to put the party into disarray.”