Mnangagwa condemns ‘senseless’ explosion at party’s rally

Injured people are evacuated after an explosion at the stadium in Bulawayo where Zimbabwe President just addressed a rally on June 23, 2018. An AFP correspondent reported multiple injuries but could not immediately give a precise toll after a blast at a ruling ZANU-PF party rally today. Images broadcast on Zimbabwean TV showed scenes of chaos and medics fighting to save those wounded by the blast at the White City stadium in the country's second city Bulawayo. / AFP PHOTO / KEN MAUR / Zimbabwe OUT / DO NOT USE ON TWITTER

Mnangagwa condemns ‘senseless’ explosion at ruling party rally

Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa has condemned the explosion that targeted his rally at the country’s opposition stronghold, Bulawayo, as “a senseless act of violence.”

State broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), said he urged the people of Zimbabwe to continue to be united and address differences peacefully.

ZBC quoted a statement posted on his facebook page as saying the President Mnangagwa said the strongest response to violence is peace and the strongest response to hate is love.

President Mnangagwa said several people were affected by the blast, and he had already visited them in the hospital adding that his “thoughts and prayers were with all those affected by this senseless act of violence.”

He said Zimbabweans should not allow “cowardly acts of violence” to get in the way of election campaigns that had so far been conducted in a free and peaceful environment

ZBC said that the explosion in the country’s second largest city was an “assassination attempt” on President Mnangagwa.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) said: “Indications are that the explosive could have been placed under the VVIP stage close to the exit which was used by President Mnangagwa and officials seated on the high table.”

The President was evacuated from White City Stadium in Bulawayo following the explosion just as a rally by his ZANU-PF to campaign for the 30 July elections ended, it said.

President Mnangagwa himself tweeted that there was an explosion on the stage as they were “leaving a wonderful rally at Bulawayo”.

ZBC quoted Presidential spokesperson George Charamba as saying the President was not hurt, adding that they were awaiting word from the police about the explosion and what could have caused it.

ZBS said Vice President Kembo Mohadi was injured on the leg and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Other injured persons were the ZANU-PF National Chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and National Political Commissar Engelbert Rugeje.

The state broadcaster said three of its crew members who were on duty were also injured and have been taken to hospital for treatment.

Police are investigating.

President Mnangagwa was sworn in as at the National Stadium in Harare on 24 November 2017 to succeed President Robert Mugabe, who resigned after a huge pressure from the military, veterans, the ruling ZANU-PF and the general population.

It marked the beginning of a new era following the resignation of President Mugabe, 94, who had ruled the southern African country since independence in 1980.

Mnangagwa, a former close ally of Mugabe and vice president, was sacked a few days earlier from the post in a bitter power struggle.

He has promised a free and fair election.