The chasm between the incumbent and his predecessor is widening, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa accusing a Zanu-PF faction used by former president Robert Mugabe to persecute him before the military’s intervention last November of being behind the Saturday bomb attack which has so far claimed two lives.
Mnangagwa escaped death by a whisker five days ago after a bomb attack at White City Stadium in Bulawayo injured more than 40 people, including Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Zanu-PF’s national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, the party’s national political commissar Engelbert Rugeje and several other VVIPs.
The president, who appeared to have been the target, escaped unhurt, shortly after addressing a rally at the 15 000-seater White City Stadium.
Although Mnangagwa has said the police should be allowed to complete their investigations, he told the BBC’s Fergal Keane, in an interview, that he suspected the Generation 40 (G40) faction, which supported Mugabe’s wife, Grace, for the presidency, had carried out the attack.
“I don’t know whether it was one individual – I would think it is broader than one person. I would think this is a political action by some aggrieved persons,” he said.
Asked if he trusted Grace who was his closest rival to succeed her husband before the military intervention last November, Mnangagwa said he could not trust a person who attacked him before being silenced by a military intervention code-named Operation Restore Legacy.
“On what basis would I trust someone who was used by a cabal to say things that had no basis,” Mnangagwa said, adding that he expects arrests to be made shortly.
Despite the apparent attempt on his life, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was stable and that foreign investors should not worry.
There would be no countrywide security clampdown and elections scheduled for next month would go ahead in a free and fair manner, he said.
Mnangagwa also told BBC that he felt sorry for Grace when she was ranting and raving against him.
“I felt sympathy for her because she was, I imagine, politically immature but was easily used as a tool by those who wanted to get to me,” he said.
Once Mugabe’s right hand, Mnangagwa was widely seen as the enforcer of the despot’s brutal rule.
He has been accused of being behind the extrajudicial killings in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions in the 1980s and the 2008 violence that saw the military reverse an initial win by the MDC.
But the feared politician, also known as the “Crocodile” said “he is as soft as wool”.
“I am a very soft person in life, I am a Christian . . . you have heard so many bad things about me but as you relate with me, you will realise that I am a very nice man,” said Mnangagwa.
Grace once accused Mnangagwa of having tried on several occasions to wrest power from her husband, charges the former Defence minister vehemently denied.
Saturday’s escape, adds to several other incidents whereby Mnangagwa escaped death by a whisker.
At one of the divisive rallies addressed by Mugabe before his fall last year, Mnangagwa had to be rushed to South Africa after eating food laced with poison.
After it had been suggested that Mnangagwa had eaten ice-cream from Grace’s Alpha & Omega Dairy, the former first lady strongly denied the allegations.
Mugabe and his family are currently in Singapore where the 94-year-old former strongman is getting medical care.
Writing on his Twitter account yesterday, former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo said Mnangagwa should allow the police to complete their investigations.
Moyo, who is presently in self-imposed exile, said the bomb blast was just a continuation of violence that resulted in the fall of Mugabe last November and an inside job involving those who are still in Zanu-PF.
“The bomb tragedy smacks of an inside job, over ‘internally unresolved leadership contestation’. (George) Charamba who speaks more for Chiwenga than for Mnangagwa, said as much; stating that the target was more the electoral process than Mnangagwa who apparently wanted a poll delay,” said Moyo.
Charamba is Mnangagwa’s spokesperson and the permanent secretary in the ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.