Zimbabwe’s President Escapes Bomb Scare at Airport

News and analysis from Zimbabwe and beyond

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa had a narrow escape on Friday, when his plane was forced to return to Harare after a bomb scare at Victoria Falls International Airport. Mnangagwa was on his way to attend the closing ceremony of the Southern Africa International Renewable Energy Conference, where he was expected to deliver a speech.

According to presidential spokesperson George Charamba, the airport received an email of a “credible bomb-firearm threat” just minutes before Mnangagwa was due to land. The email claimed that there was a bomb on site, and that armed assailants were waiting to attack the president and his entourage.

“As a precaution, the country’s security systems are now on heightened alert following this message whose source and credibility is also being investigated,” Charamba said in a statement. He added that the president had to suspend his trip for investigations, which are underway.

This is not the first time that Mnangagwa has faced a security threat since he came to power in 2017, following a military coup that ousted his predecessor Robert Mugabe. In June 2018, an explosion rocked a stadium in Bulawayo, where Mnangagwa was addressing a campaign rally. The blast killed two people and injured dozens, including senior government officials. Mnangagwa escaped unhurt, but blamed the incident on his political rivals.

Mnangagwa has faced growing criticism and opposition from various sectors of society, who accuse him of failing to deliver on his promises of economic and political reforms. Zimbabwe is facing a deepening crisis, characterized by high inflation, unemployment, poverty, corruption, human rights violations and social unrest.

The bomb scares also disrupted the operations of the Victoria Falls airport, which is a major tourist destination on the border with Zambia. The airport was shut down for several hours, as security personnel searched the premises and cleared the threat. Several flights were delayed, diverted or cancelled, affecting hundreds of passengers, including tourists and delegates of the renewable energy conference.

The conference, which was held from February 28 to March 1, brought together experts, investors, policymakers and civil society from the Southern African region and beyond, to discuss and promote the development and use of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and hydro. The conference aimed to address the challenges and opportunities of the energy sector, and to contribute to the global efforts to combat climate change and achieve sustainable development.

The organizers of the conference condemned the bomb scare, saying that it was an act of cowardice and sabotage, and that it did not reflect the true spirit and values of the Zimbabwean people. They expressed their solidarity with Mnangagwa and his government, and thanked them for their support and participation in the conference.

They also praised the security forces and the airport staff for their swift and professional response, and for ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved. They apologized to the affected passengers and travelers, and assured them that the situation was under control and that normal operations would resume soon.

They said that they hoped that the bomb scare would not deter or discourage anyone from visiting Zimbabwe, which they described as a beautiful and peaceful country, with a rich and diverse culture, and a friendly and hospitable people. They said that they were confident that Zimbabwe would overcome its current challenges, and that it would emerge as a prosperous and democratic nation, with a bright and green future.


Source: New Zimbabwe

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