PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has sensationally claimed that he does not trust former First Lady Grace Mugabe and her G40 acolytes, adding he could not rule out their involvement in the fatal bomb attack which rocked his Zanu-PF campaign rally in Bulawayo on Saturday, killing two security aides and injuring over 40 other people.
Speaking in an interview with BBC yesterday, Mnangagwa, without directly naming Grace, said he suspected that the attempt on his life could have been engineered by his G40 enemies who were fronted by Grace, who prior to last November’s military intervention, was angling to succeed former President Robert Mugabe.
This came amid reports that Mnangagwa had beefed up and tightened his security following the Saturday incident.
In Hwange yesterday, Cabinet ministers, journalists and traditional leaders attending the ground-breaking ceremony of the thermal power station’s expansion project were humiliatingly frisked by Mnangagwa’s security aides before entering the venue.
Since assuming power last November, Mnangagwa had projected a different image from Mugabe with a relaxed security atmosphere in which daring activists even tried to have selfies taken with the Zanu-PF leader, but the Bulawayo incident seems to have changed everything.
“My hunch without evidence is that the people who are aggrieved about the new dispensation are the G40, that is a logical and reasonable conclusion one may make, but until the evidence is brought forward and until you pin down why has this happened, when you get the person, you then get the history and what happened and why he did what he did,” Mnangagwa told BBC.
“I think this is a political action by some aggrieved persons, by the current democratic dispensation in the country. On what basis would I trust somebody who was used by a cabal to say the things which had no basis at all. I felt sympathy for her [Grace] because in my view, she was politically immature and was easily used by those who wanted to get at me.”
Mnangagwa said there was no need to place the country under a state of emergency over the attack which injured top Zanu-PF leaders, including Vice-President Kembo Mohadi.
“There is no need for us to say there is a need for a security clampdown or putting the country into a security alert. No! This is a criminal activity. It does not give any dent to the security of the country or the law and order of the country, but, of course, we must make sure that the population is protected by making sure we hunt down these criminals and only when we get them are we going to assess the extent to which the network spreads,” he said.
“Let me assure you that in the region, Zimbabwe is the most stable in my view in terms of stability and law and order.”
But the opposition National Patriotic Front (NPF), which is made up of former G40 members, hit back at Mnangagwa, saying, if anything, it was his government which was formed at the heart of violence and had the propensity for such acts of violence.
“He [Mnangagwa] and [Vice-President Constantino] Chiwenga, who used force to chase away the G40, the formation of NPF was a deliberate and peaceful political route made by the G40 to challenge the November 15, 2017 coup.
There is no G40 that is working outside the political NPF route that we took to cure the coup,” NPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire said.
He accused Mnangagwa of stage-managing the Saturday blast to portray himself as a victim to gain public sympathy.
“It is not surprising that ED is making such claims for he is infamous for creating situations and playing victim. If anything, the visuals on the explosion that we are seeing suggest that the attack was aimed at General Chiwenga,” Mawarire said.
NPF said the fact that there has been no arrest since Saturday raised a lot of suspicion.
Mnangagwa was in Hwange yesterday, where he officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony of the thermal power station’s expansion project, financed by the Chinese government.
The area was crawling with military and Central Intelligence Organisation details, some armed to the teeth, leaving nothing to chance.
Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu, Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Josaya Hungwe, Zesa Holdings board members and its subsidiaries, as well as traditional leaders were not spared the detailed searches, as they lined up for pictures with Mnangagwa after the ceremony.
This after undergoing another detailed body search at the entrance.
Even some State media journalists, who had not been invited formally were denied entry into Hwange Power Station.
On Tuesday, security was also tighter than usual at the Old Mutual Anchoring in Africa dinner hosted at the Meikles Hotel in Harare’s central business district, where Mnangagwa was the guest of honour.
About an hour before the event, which was slated for 6pm, the stretch of road in front of Meikles Hotel was cordoned off, with no vehicles being allowed to pass through or park.
NewsDay arrived at the venue and witnessed more security details at the hotel before Mnangagwa’s arrival, vigorously combing the hotel and surrounding area for any potential threats.
Some of the personnel were moving around with sniffer dogs to conduct thorough searches.
When the event was about to begin, only those on the invited guest list were allowed into the hotel with no exceptions.
Guests were subjected to a full body scan, body searches and canines were used on those carrying big bags.
Journalists were separated from other guests, who also went through similar searches.
But Mnangagwa insisted he was undeterred by the horrific blast at White City Stadium.
“We have a very clear vision for Zimbabwe to be an open, free and democratic country. The recent sad and unfortunate event in our country will not deter us from this resolve,” he said.
Mnangagwa took the opportunity to assure restive citizens as well as investors that their security was “guaranteed”.
“Allow me, therefore, to take this opportunity to assure the nation and investors alike that we are a safe and peace-loving country, indeed Zimbabwe remains open for business,” the President said.
Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping said Zimbabwe would emerge stronger after the Saturday incident.
“China stands firmly with the people of Zimbabwe in difficult times and condemns the political violence perpetrated at White City Stadium last weekend.
“Zimbabwe will emerge stronger and more united. Nothing will stop Zimbabwe from its endeavours,” the Chinese envoy said.