By John Cassim
Zimbabwe’s president survived an apparent assassination attempt on Saturday during a campaign rally for his ruling ZANU PF ahead of polls next month.
An explosion went off in front of Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, as he descended the podium, in Bulawayo, southwest Zimbabwe. A number of top party officials and security aides were injured in the blast.
“Investigations are underway and more details will be given to the public,” presidential spokesman George Charamba said after the incident. “There have been multiple attempts on the president’s life over the past five years.”
At least 20 injured were rushed to Bulawayo’s Mpilo hospital for treatment, said to include Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Environment Minister and ZANU PF Chair Oppah Muchinguri, but the reports are unconfirmed.
The incident took place during a live broadcast on Zimbabwe Television (ZTV), the country’s sole TV channel, run by the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
Mnangagwa has survived several assassination attempts, including a food poisoning attempt at a ZANU PF rally in Gwanda, near Bulawayo, last year. The poisoning was later blamed on former strongman leader Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.
Mnangagwa’s office was broken into several times and on two occasions cyanide was sprinkled in his office during his tenure as vice president under Mugabe.
The July 30 elections are to be the first since Mugabe's resignation last November after a military coup.
The blast in the southern African country followed a grenade attack in Ethiopia, in the Horn of African, at a rally by its new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. He escaped unharmed, but one person died and over 150 were injured.