Ethiopia and Zimbabwe have witnessed explosive attacks at election rallies

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Zimbabwe and Ethiopia in the last week witnessed attacks been staged against their political leaders at election rallies. The attacks which involved hurling explosives have been denounced by both leaders and foreign powers but none have called them “acts of terror”. If these attacks were to happen in the United States or Europe then they would have been given such a term. However, both Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa are alive and well. However, both these attacks on the respective politicians left behind casualties.

In Zimbabwe where at the White City Stadium in the Second City of Bulawayo the attack took place Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi and minister sustained minor injuries. Ethiopia too saw some casualties.

“There has been an incident at Bulawayo where the president was addressing a rally. This is now a police issue but the president is safe at Bulawayo State House,” spokesman George Charamba told Reuters.

“We are still to get information on what exactly happened as we understand that some people could have been injured as this happened in the VIP tent.” National Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said she did not have details on the incident.

Several security personal were also injured, the state-owned Herald newspaper said. Footage from Zimbabwe state television showed the explosion took place neat Mnangagwa as he waved to supporters. He was later seen in pictures circulating on social media visiting Chiwenga’s wife in hospital.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Image: Reuters

There has been a matter of what this action would mean for other countries in southern Africa. If it could happen in a neighboring country such as Zimbabwe what if it were to happen here in South Africa? Imagine if President Cyril Ramaphosa, his deputy or a cabinet minister was injured due to a bombing that took place at a political rally? For an election or otherwise. Would it be considered a terrorist attack or political violence as it was called in Zimbabwe? President Mnangagwa denounced the attack as “cowardly” and his government has addressed it as a police issue and even the opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has also issued his condemnation of the attack. This was far from been considered an incident but a warning that this could inspire similar attacks in the region.

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 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 2000.

The attempt on both Mnangagwa and Ahmed’s lives should clearly be seen as a message that this kind of action and be attempted anywhere. It could happen to anyone in a position of power when they least expect it. Whether the assassination attempt on Mnangagwa’s life should be considered as been instigated by his predecessor, former president Robert Mugabe’s sympathizers remains to be seen. The election which will happen on Friday will be the first since Mugabe’s removal from power. It will redefine Zimbabwe’s future in the economic if not political sense.

Authorities overseeing the elections will have to keep tabs on security. Hopefully there won’t be a risk for any form of insecurity.