Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
The African Union (AU) and Sadc yesterday condemned Saturday’s assassination attempt on President Mnangagwa soon after addressing a zanu-pf rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo. Chairman of the African Union Commission Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, in a statement, said he “strongly condemns the cowardly bomb attack that took place yesterday (Saturday) at a campaign rally in the city of Bulawayo attended by President Emmerson Mnangagwa”.
He said he “wishes a speedy recovery to those who were injured during this senseless act of violence, which cannot be justified under any circumstances.
“The Chairperson of the Commission reiterates the importance of the elections scheduled for 30 July 2018. Their successful conduct will mark a major step in the efforts to enhance democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
“It should be recalled that, in response to the request made by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) during the chairperson’s visit to Harare in February 2018, the African Union Commission has extended technical assistance to the ZEC. A team of observers will also be deployed to observe the elections.
Sadc chairman and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said violence and criminality had no place in democratic processes in the region.
At least 49 people were injured in the explosion at White City Stadium just as President Mnangagwa was leaving the podium at the end of a rally that was attended by thousands of people.
Through his spokesman Mr Khusela Diko yesterday, President Ramaphosa said he would consult Angola’s President and Sadc’s chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, Joao Lourenco, to ensure the forthcoming elections were held in a peacful environment.
“President Ramaphosa said acts of violence and criminality have no place in the democratic process of any sovereign state within the SADC region.
“President Ramaphosa said it is vital that the political and security situation in Zimbabwe remains stable in the run-up to the general elections to be held on 30 July 2018,” said Mr Diko.
“The President said the SADC Troika meeting confirmed the state of readiness and support for all countries going into elections. President Ramaphosa said Zimbabwe is ready for elections and SADC will provide all necessary support. The President said he will consult with the chair of the Organ and ensure that appropriate protection is provided ahead of the elections.”
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta also condemned the attack.
“As a long-standing friend of Zimbabwe, Kenya sends a message of goodwill to President @edmnangagwa and the people of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Political competition should not fracture Zimbabweans but should be a measure to deepen their democratic credentials,” President Kenyatta said.
The Zimbabwe Council Churches called on Zimbabweans to pray for peace following Saturday’s attack.
“Yesterday we received very sad news about an explosion that took place in Bulawayo at White City Stadium where Zanu PF was holding a campaign rally.
“We condemn this violence. We don’t want to see its repetition in any manner, shape or form. Today (yesterday) as we fellowship in our various churches we ask every Christian to remember our nation in their prayers and supplications,” read part of the ZCC statement.
The ZCC also slammed the polarised responses the incident has elicited and called on Zimbabweans to unite and maintain peace ahead of the elections.
The National Elders Forum for Zimbabwe, a grouping of church leaders, also condemned the attack.
“We would want to categorically condemn the barbaric attack which was carried out at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday.
“Whoever did it is a coward who was targeting the President of the nation and Vice Presidents. We need to remind you that Zimbabwe is a peace loving nation. As a majority of us are Christians, we urge the nation to respect the sanctity of human life at all costs,” NEFZ said in a statement.
South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, condemned the attack including the bomb blast that occurred at another rally in Ethiopia where one person was killed.
“The ANC views these as barbaric and cowardice acts of assassination attempts and deliberate ploys to destabilise and create disunity and confusion in our sister African countries.
“These coward and barbaric acts have no place towards a peaceful, prosperous, and integrated Africa that is transforming and seeks to accelerate initiatives for growth and sustainable development. They must be utterly condemned and not be allowed to spread and to be assimilated anywhere,” ANC spokesperson Mr Paul Mabe said.
The US embassy also condemned the attack saying political violence was unacceptable.
“We condemn the attack at the ZANU-PF rally in Byo this afternoon. Political violence in any form is unacceptable & contrary to the positive progress required to move Zim forward as it seeks to take its place on the global stage. Our thoughts & prayers go out to the victims & their families,” reads the statement.
The Russian embassy said they shared Zimbabwe’s vision for a peaceful election.
“Russian Embassy in Zimbabwe strongly condemns today’s (Saturday’s) attack at rally in Bulawayo. Any form of violence in politics is unacceptable. We share the will of the friendly Zimbabwean people to conduct peaceful elections. We wish speedy recovery for those who were injured,” the embassy said in a statement.
South Africa’s opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters slammed the assassination attempt on the President.
“The EFF condemns the assassination attempt on President Mnangagwa during an election campaign rally in the southern city of Bulawayo.
“Zimbabwe has undergone a number of structural changes and the recent removal of former President Mugabe was a peaceful and non-violent action by the people of Zimbabwe. We have hoped that this remains in place until the upcoming elections and beyond that in order for Zimbabwe to return to its former glory as the bread basket of Africa,” reads part of the EFF statement.
Mr Mmusi Maimane, leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said Zimbabwe needed non-violent free and fair elections.
“We condemn the bombing that took place in Zimbabwe. More than anything the country needs free and fair elections without violence. SA and Sadc must conduct an investigation urgently to determine all causes. Violence is undemocratic,” Mr Maimane said.
Australia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ms Bronte Moules said; “The Australian Embassy condemns the attack at the political rally in Bulawayo. Political violence of any sort is unacceptable and in no way helps Zimbabwe’s democratic reform. We extend our sympathy to those affected by the explosion,” she said.
The Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T formation said there was no excuse to engage in violence.
“There’s absolutely no excuse for resorting to any form of violence in pursuit of any political goals. MDC-T led by Dr Thokozani Khupe believes in non-violence, tolerance, peace and solidarity,” said party spokesman Mr Obert Gutu.
Harare West legislator Ms Jessie Majome also condemned the attack.
“Reports of a fatal explosion/gunfire at a rally are alarming and disturbing to say the least. We absolutely need peace in our politics and peace in our country,” she said.
Former education minister Mr David Coltart said he was shocked by the incident.
“I am deeply shocked to hear about the explosion at President Mnangagwa’s rally in Bulawayo and grateful he survived. This must be condemned by all patriotic Zimbabweans. We must bring the cycle of violence to an end. My condolences are extended to all those affected by this,” he said.
Internationally acclaimed musicians Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo also sent their messages of support to those affected by the incident.
The president of the Multi-party Christian Democrats Mr Matthias Guchutu also condemned the bomb attack.
“Let us all pray for peace in Zimbabwe. Any form of violence must be condemned whether from the ruling party or from the opposition, whether an internal issue of any particular party or external.
“Bullets and bombs are never limited to enemies. They destroy innocent blood more than those engaged in the fight, lives and property will be lost. Zimbabwe deserves better. Dialogue should always prevail,” Mr Guchutu said.