Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Saturday he was lucky to escape an attempt on his life after a blast at a party rally injured two of his vice-presidents and several party officials.
“I am used to these attempts,” Mnangagwa told state media, adding that an object “exploded a few inches away from me — but it is not my time”.
Fifteen people were hurt, three of them seriously, in the explosion during an election campaign event in Zimbabwe’s second city Bulawayo, according to Health Minister David Parirenyatwa.
Footage circulating on social media showed an explosion and plumes of smoke around the president as he descended stairs from the podium at the city’s White City stadium.
Mnangagwa suggested he was the target of the attack, which he said also injured Vice-Presidents Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga.
ZANU-PF chairwoman and cabinet minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Mary Chiwenga, the wife of vice president Chiwenga, were also among those injured, he said, as was deputy parliament speaker Mabel Chinomona.
The “blast… has affected my vice-presidents — especially comrade Mohadi,” he added.
Mohadi suffered leg injuries, while Chiwenga had slight bruises to his face, according to the presidential spokesman George Charamba.
State broadcaster ZBC described the blast as “an assassination attempt”.
But Mnangagwa insisted that the “country is peaceful” as Zimbabwe prepares to stage its first ever elections not to feature former president Robert Mugabe on July 30.
“Several people were affected by the blast, and I have already been to visit them in the hospital,” Mnangagwa wrote on his verified Facebook account describing the attack as a “senseless act of violence”.
“The campaign so far has been conducted in a free and peaceful environment, and we will not allow this cowardly act to get in our way as we move towards elections.”
State media also reported that the ZANU-PF party secretary in charge of political organisation, Engelbert Rugeje, was injured, as were several security personnel.
Injured ZANU-PF supporters were pictured in a nearby hospital where one man wearing a blood-stained party T-shirt waited for treatment.
According to Charamba, the president was “evacuated successfully” to his official residence in Bulawayo.
Mnangagwa had been in the city to campaign for votes ahead of nationwide elections due on July 30.
“People started running in all directions and then immediately the president’s motorcade left at a very high speed. Suddenly soldiers and other security details were all over the place,” said an AFP correspondent at the scene.
Bulawayo has long been a bastion of opposition to the ZANU-PF and it was Mnangagwa’s first rally in the city.
Source: PM News