Bulawayo White City explosion: Dereliction of duty

In every election, be it in Zimbabwe, Africa or any other country, there are pre-election furores, these are events and pronouncements that either shock or intrigue the masses before the election.

Wilton Nyasha Machimbira

However, it would be insensitive and inhuman to reduce the Bulawayo White City Stadium explosion to a mere “pre-election furore”, considering that there are casualities who are still being attended to in hospitals and some have since passed on.

Pre-election episodes can be characterised by nasty fights and ghastly events, but the Bulawayo White City explosion was so unexpected in Zimbabwe, a country considered to have tight security.

The whole act was barbaric, morally unacceptable and politically uncalled for. It’s a degeneration on the part of human security in Zimbabwe and the ripple-effects ought not to be overlooked.

It sends the wrong signals to investors and tourists. It gives an impression that Zimbabwe is a replica of Hobbes state of nature, where life is “short, brutish and nasty”.

The whole incident buttresses the negative publicity that Zimbabwe has suffered in previous years under President Robert Mugabe.

The whole incident makes even disinterested observers question if Zimbabwe is really open for business.

Internal or external observers are bound to ask if the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration is, indeed, a new dispensation or a perpetuation of Mugabe’s toxic politics, the proverbial old wine in new wineskin.

Everyone is trying to come to terms with what really transpired. The whole incident has serious implications: Does it mean that there was a case of “dereliction of duty” or “gross negligence” on the part of presidential security team?

Under normal circumstances heads are supposed to roll. No doubt that what transpired was quentissentially a security breach which should not be trivialised.


What actually raises eyebrows is whether the person who planted the explosion actually wanted to “eliminate” or “hurt” the “President” or the “Presidium”.

It makes sense if it is treated as an assanation attempt on the Presidium. One also wonder if it was really an assassination attempt or a mere “shoot out warning”.

The purpose of a shoot out warning is to make a victim comply or give in to certain demands.

It is understandable for political pundits to examine if there is a nexus between the Operation Restore Legacy and the White City Stadium explosion.

Pundits are bound to question if there is a leadership feud in Zanu PF that might have precipitated the attack on the Presidium.

Pundits do not proffer definitive explanations, but rather, tabulate possible scenarios.

Questions are being raised on whether the culprits responsible for the explosion are internal or external elements.

If they are internal, what could be the plan B if plan A had succeeded? What cannot be denied is that assuming internal elements are behind the attack can fuels tension and distrust within the ruling party.

But who in Zimbabwe can have access to grenades and explosives and even proceed to plant an explosion on the presidential stage?

Theories have been concocted by a number of people, with some even dismissing the whole episode as stage-managed, but such a theory has less credence because there are serious casualties on the ground.

Adherents of this theory argue that the revolutionary party under Mnangagwa wants sympathy from the masses, as they play the politics of victimhood.

Some argue that the brains behind the explosions want to portray a picture of the President as an invincible man, who has weathered life-threatening political storms.

They also allege that Mnangagwa wants a pretext to deploy soldiers in the streets ahead of the July 30 elections.

Such an argument reduces the White City Stadium explosion to a mere “false flag” operation in international relations parlance.

A false flag is a covert operation designed to deceive; the deception creates the appearance of a particular party, group, or nation being responsible for some activity, disguising the actual source of responsibility.

In a false flag operation, there are “crisis actors” who feign to be survivors and are quickly exposed to the media to advance a political agenda.

The term “false flag” originally referred to pirate ships that flew flags of countries as a disguise to prevent their victims from fleeing or preparing for battle.

Sometimes the flag would remain and the blame for the attack laid incorrectly on another country.

The term today extends beyond naval encounters to include countries that organise attacks on themselves and make the attacks appear to be by enemy nations or terrorists, thus giving the nation that was supposedly attacked a pretext for domestic repression and foreign military aggression.

In the midst of political turmoil in Syria, pro-Kremlin pundits advanced the false flag narrative, accusing the rebels of bombarding innocent civilians with chemical weapons in rebel strongholds in a bid to lay the blame on the Bashar al-Assad government.

However, the false flag narrative in this case was watered down, as the ulterior motive appeared to exculpate and absolve the al-Assad administration.

The atrocious September 11 attacks on the Pentagon in the United States drew a hotly contested debate, with some claiming that it was a false flag operation by the George Bush administration or other State or non-State actors to provide a smokescreen for a war in the Middle-East.

A false flag operation can also be carried out to incite a “rally around the flag effect”, to make the masses feel that their nation is under attack and subtly inflame nationalistic consciousness so as to drew empathy and sympathy for the incumbent Administration.

In German history, Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Germany parliament. The blame was quickly laid on the communist.

The aftermath of the Reichstag fire was a rule by decree and consolidation of Adolf Hiltler’s dictatorship.

Hitler, as Germany Chancellor, had to quickly advise Germany President Paul Von Hinderburg to issue a decree and the result was morbid extermination of the Jews.
Pundits claim that the Reichstag fire was a perfect example of a false flag operation.

June 23 will be remembered as a day when incumbents survived attacks, if the Ethiopian explosion is to go by.

The reformist new Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, survived by a whisker after a grenade exploded just after he had delivered a speech at a rally in Addis Ababa.

The White City Stadium explosion is purely political terrorism, the very same political terrorism the late Morgan Tsvangirai denounced from time immemorial.
It is a sad development that deserves no place in modern-day Zimbabwe.

Chegore rino!

Wilton Nyasha Machimbira is a political analyst, human rights defender and director for Developmental Research and Consultancy. For feedback and comments can be contacted on wiltonnyash@gmail.com.

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1 Comment

  1. However, his analysis is spot on if you remove your Lacoste or G40 blinkers. The military did not take over to serve democracy and the interests of the country, but rather their own interests. Why did they agree to presidium and cabinet appointments. We do not miss Mugabe but what happened is an illegality and is a bad precedent for our country and region. Just look at SA, the army did not intervene in the shenanigans of a ruling party (ANC) but stayed in its barracks until the party had exhausted its internal processes to select a new leader. Why didn’t that happen in Zimbabwe – because the army is politicised and has hidden interests they want to protect.

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