Zimbabwe explosion sullies hopes for an election free of tension

An explosion rocked the stadium where President Mnangagwa was addressing a campaign rally on Saturday [AP]

The blast that wounded several people as President Emmerson Mnangagwa left a campaign rally in the city of Bulawayo may have significantly changed the country’s political landscape ahead of next month’s tight poll race, analysts say. 

Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa Director of Human Rights Watch described the incident as “awful and appalling” but he commended Mnangagwa’s immediate condemnation of the blast and calls for peace ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls on July 30.

“The authorities must swiftly and thoroughly investigate the incident and hold accountable those responsible.

“The incident could trigger violence ahead of elections, but President Mnangagwa has done well to call for peace and calm,” he said.

Several party supporters were injured including top officials such as second Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Minister of Water and Environment Oppah Muchinguri, both sustaining leg injuries.

Although Mnangagwa pleaded for unity and peace after he survived the blast, Eldred Masunungure, a political analyst and academic, expressed scepticism about the possibility of a peaceful election next month. 

Masunungure told Al Jazeera that although the climate towards the polls seemed more promising of less violence compared to other elections since 2000, the explosion sullied hopes for an election free of tension. 

This sours the political environment after it seemed like all parties were taking steps to ensure the election would be free of violence. This worsens the tension that had already been culminating around the election and it creates a lot of uncertainty on how far some are willing to go in order to demonstrate their power or even the lack of it,” he said.


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