President Emmerson Mnangagwa escaped injury in an explosion at a political rally on Saturday, and vowed the “cowardly act” would not derail Zimbabwe’s first election since the ouster of former strongman Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe loyalist installed after the army ousted his erstwhile patron, said the object had “exploded a few inches away from me, but it is not my time.”
The blast came as Zimbabwe prepared to hold its first post-Mugabe presidential election on July 30, with 75-year-old Mnangagwa and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the main contenders.
Authorities gave no details of what had caused the explosion at Mnangagwa’s first rally in Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold where the ruling ZANU-PF has not won in national elections since 2000.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast and the run up to this year’s vote had been relatively peaceful, unlike previous elections which were marred by violence, mostly against opposition members by ZANU-PF supporters.
“The campaign so far has been conducted in a free and peaceful environment, and we will not allow this cowardly act to get in our way as we move towards elections,” Mnangagwa said.