AGRICULTURE minister, former Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) commander Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri (pictured) yesterday warned those behind the “terrorist” explosion that rocked the Zanu PF campaign rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday injuring 49 that they were “playing with fire”.
BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA/ RICHARD CHIDZA/ NQOBANI NDLOVU/ KUDZAI MUCHENJEKWA
Shiri’s warning came a day after President Emmerson Mnangagwa escaped death by a whisker following an explosion that left scores of people seriously injured including senior government officials — Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, Zanu PF chair Oppah Muchinguri and party commissar Engelbert Rugeje.
Addressing a campaign rally at Nhakiwa business centre in Uzumba district of Mashonaland East province, Shiri described the attack as an act of terrorism targeted at Mnangagwa and his top allies.
“Do not revenge, as the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the police are investigating the issue. We are not there to seek revenge. Those who are doing that think that maybe we are fools, but this is what we call playing with fire. We do not want to point fingers at each other over this. Be careful and when you see someone suspicious at a rally, just alert the police,” he said, describing the attack as an act of extremism.
His utterances came as Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo issued a statement describing the attack as barbaric.
“While these primitive, satanic and heinous acts of terror are being subjected to the highest measure of the law, Zanu PF remains unflinching and resolute towards achieving the goal of peace and above all else the goal of uplifting the people’s livelihoods. Notwithstanding the disturbances, the party will continue its campaign programmes as scheduled,” he said.
The crime scene was teeming with security details yesterday as they scoured for leads in a bid to piece together the causes of the incident that has little precedence in Zimbabwe.
But it was Shiri’s comments that could likely stoke tensions.
Shiri commanded the 5th Brigade that reportedly wreaked havoc in the western parts of the country in what is now known as Gukurahundi.
Up to 20 000 civilians were reportedly killed in an orgy of violence targeting then opposition leader Joshua Nkomo’s supporters under the guise of hunting down a handful of dissidents in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces.
“The President is preaching about peace but yesterday (Saturday) someone was possessed by the (Biblical) spirit of Legion (and) wanted to destroy the leader of the party. We are preaching peace and others are