While President Emmerson Mnangagwa was leaving the stage at a rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo, an explosion occurred among his retinue – seemingly very close to the President. Although Mnangagwa was unharmed, it appears that at least one person, and probably several more, were wounded [UPDATE: police are now reporting 49 wounded]. Video of the incident suggests the explosion occurred very close to several people, making it somewhat odd that so few people were harmed. So far, news media has been careful to refer only to an ‘explosion’, not a source – although this incident is being reported as an assassination attempt. [source]

A closer look at the available video suggests that the source of the explosion was a hand grenade, thrown from somewhere in the crowd.

Below are two versions of the same piece of footage taken of the incident. The first appears to be a (low quality) direct feed, without audio. The second is a camera recording of the same video, but with audio. Neither are perfect, and both have been passed around by numerous people on social media, making original attribution impossible for now.


Breaking down the video – some key details emerge.

President Mnangagwa, marked with a green circle and wearing a yellow cap, begins to walk off the stage.

Mnangagwa descends the steps of the stage. Note the bodyguards in the foreground.

Two ZDF soldiers pass in front of the camera. They are likely to be Presidential Guard Battalion members (yellow berets).

An object can be seen in a few frames, passing from out of camera shot into the group of delegates and bodyguards following the President off stage.

A small round object is visible in just three frames, passing from the left of the camera, and seemingly toward the President.

For perspective, the object appears to pass in front of the soldier, and between the bodyguards behind him.

It appears that at least one person – probably a bodyguard, marked with a red arrow, saw the object – and was bending over toward it when it detonated.

A loud pop is audible in versions of the video with sound, roughly one second before the detonation. This is typical of somes hand grenade fuzes, such as the RGD-5 hand grenade (and of similar devices, including Chinese Type-59 hand grenades, which are clones of the RGD-5). For comparison, see: https://youtu.be/T90KnzsKM0c?t=56 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mc7Oxg19lVU

Other people in the group appear to react to the popping noise just prior to the explosion.

Another bodyguard, marked with a yellow arrow, turns quickly to look in the direction of the source of the object. The other bodyguard is still bending over, possibly reaching for the object.

The size of the detonation is consistent with a hand grenade. It remains unclear how or why the device did not cause more casualties, considering how close it appears to have been to a large number of people when it detonated. [UPDATE: police are now reporting 49 people wounded by the blast]

This post will be updated if more imagery, or information on the incident becomes available.