The number of people injured in an explosion at White City Stadium in Bulawayo yesterday has risen to 49 and police say this could increase as more victims come forward.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa narrowly escaped from the blast but some of his top lieutenants including Kembo Mohadi, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Engelbert Rugeje and Constantino Chiwenga’s wife Marry were injured.
President Mnangagwa described the blast as “cowardly” but said elections due on 30 July, 36 days from now, will go ahead as scheduled.
“Let us continue to be united and address our differences peacefully,” he tweeted. “The strongest response to violence is peace. The strongest response to hate is love.”
“The campaign 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.”
His spokesman George Charamba also confirmed that there is no going back on elections.
“As for the elections being postponed, a State of Emergency being declared, or a ‘transitional authority’ being formed, rest assured that the electoral programme proceeds as schedule,” he said.
Movement for Democratic Change Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa condemned the attack saying: “Terrible events at White City stadium. Our prayers go out to the injured and we hope no lives have be lost. Violence must have no place in our politics. May God bless and protect the country we all love.”
One of Mnangagwa’s arch-enemies Jonathan Moyo said the blast was a lesson for Mnangagwa that violence begets violence.
“Today’s explosion at White City Stadium in Byo is a tragic reminder that the use of tanks, bombs, grenades & guns by whosoever against anyone to settle a political contest is barbaric. Nov 15, 2017 set a dangerous paradigm for politics in Zimbabwe. Violence begets violence. Sad!” Moyo said yesterday.
Moyo’s sentiments were shared by National Patriotic Front spokesman Jealousy Mawarire who described Mnangagwa and Chiwenga as Dathan and Korah and said they deserved what they got.
“It’s a continuation of the violence we saw on Nov 15 2017. Remember Chiwenga told pple in Mabvuku that ‘Operation Restore Regacy’ is still ongoing. I hope SADC, AU & the international community now see why some of us still condemn the Coup. The violent can never bring peace,’ he said.
Mnangagwa said there will be no witch-hunt in looking for those involved in the explosion.
“Until the investigators pronounce themselves and present the evidence for arrest and prosecution, no one should ascribe motive or blame,” he said.
Police said they have launched a manhunt for the culprits and have offered a “substantial” reward for information to help the investigation.