Vincent Gono in Bulawayo
Forty-one people were injured in a blast at White City Stadium in Bulawayo yesterday afternoon soon after President Mnangagwa addressed a Zanu-PF campaign rally.
President Mnangagwa was not injured and security details evacuated him to State House (Bulawayo), before he returned to Harare last night as scheduled.
President Mnangagwa said these were the actions of his “mortal enemies”, who over the past five years have made numerous well-documented attempts to kill him.
Among the injured were Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, Cabinet minister and Zanu-PF National Chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, VP Constantino Chiwenga’s wife Mrs Mary Chiwenga, and ruling party National Political Commissar Lieutenant-General Englebert Rugeje (Retired).
Last night, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said there had been no fatalities although some of the injured required “serious surgery”.
The blast occurred as President Mnangagwa left the podium at the north end of White City Stadium, with the detonation happening on the right side of the stage just as he got off the last steps.
So rapid was the security response that the Head of State and Government was whisked to his vehicle even as the shockwave reverberated.
Dr Parirenyatwa last night said the injured were being treated at Mpilo Central Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals and Mater Dei Hospital.
“We have 25 people at Mpilo, 12 at Mater Dei and four at UBH, giving us a total of 41 who have so far approached our health institutions complaining of injuries.
“Some had, however, previously gone home and later discovered that they wanted to be assisted and are coming in. We will therefore have a consolidated figure (today) but so far that is the figure we have. We have no fatalities so far,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
Dr Parirenyatwa went on: “Some (of the injured) require serious surgery and I think these are the ones who were close to where the blast occurred, but some are not serious. Some can be treated and discharged,” he added.
Among those discharged yesterday were Rtd Lt-Gen Rugeje.
President Mnangwagwa visited the injured in Bulawayo and offered words of comfort, before saying on national television that the nation should overcome such acts of evil with love. When the President visited Mater Dei, Mrs Chiwenga was being treated for lacerations from when she rushed to assist her aide, who had taken blast shrapnel in the stomach.
VP Mohadi sustained an injury to the leg but was in high spirits; while Minister Muchunguri-Kashiri was injured in the chest but was said to be stable.
Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba said: “The President has visited all the injured who were taken to Mater Dei for treatment. Vice-Presiddnt Mohadi is unbowed despite his injuries, he is in high spirits.
“Minister Muchunguri-Kashiri has some chest injuries but we are told she is stable, and vaRugeje, the ruling party National Political Commissar, had shrapnel enter his left arm but he has been treated and has been discharged.
“The President visited everyone, including some chiefs, and security personnel who were being treated at the hospital. Investigations are underway and the nation will be kept abreast of relevant developments.”
Last night, President Mnangagwa told ZBC News that the blast had nothing to do with the people of Bulawayo, but rather his “mortal enemies”.
“…I don’t think the evil people are part of Bulawayo, the people must come from elsewhere. The people from Bulawayo were happy to see me and I was happy to see them.
“The people of Bulawayo, I love them and they love me; it’s people outside Bulawayo I can assure you. These are my mortal enemies and the attempts have been so many.
“It’s not the first attempt of my life. It does not scare me, I’m used to it. Six times my office has been broken into; cyanide was put in my offices so many times. I will continue.
“When they tried to poison me I survived, they tried poisoning me through my office, I survived. The same methods, I survived… It exploded inches away from me but it is not my time…”
Late last night, the Officer Commanding the Zimbabwe Republic Police in Bulawayo, Senior Assistant Commissioner Learn Ncube, said investigations were proceeding full throttle.
He called on the nation to heed the President’s continuous calls for peace.
“We urge the generality of people to give heed to His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe’s continuous calls for peace.
“We have started investigations into the issue where so far a number of people have been injured. We will leave no stone unturned and we urge members of the public to come forth and assist us in our investigations,” he said.