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Zimbabwean Dies in Mugabe Election Campaign Rally

  • Thomas Chiripasi

Part of the crowd which attended President Robert Mugabe's election rally in Chitungwiza

Part of the crowd which attended President Robert Mugabe's election rally in Chitungwiza

One person died in a stampede at Chibuku Stadium in Chitungwiza on Tuesday at a Zanu PF campaign rally addressed by President Robert Mugabe.

Police spokesperson Charity Charamba initially told VOA Studio 7 that five people died in a stampede at the stadium while several others were seriously injured as they tried to make their way into the fully-packed venue.

Charamba said a durawall collapsed as some of those who were making their way into the stadium at an undesignated entry points were on top of the wall.

The accident followed the frog-marching of several Chitungwiza residents by Zanu PF youths to attend the rally. Several businesses were forced to close while some party supporters were said to have been bussed from as far as Chiweshe in Mashonaland Central province.

After the accident, those who could not find their way into the stadium were ordered to sit on top of vehicles that were parked outside the venue so that they could see Mr. Mugabe as he addressed the meeting.

Emergency health workers had a busy day resuscitating several people who fainted as a result of overcrowding.

President Robert Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe

Although police officers were present when the accident happened, they could not help as they stood firm clearing the way for President Mugabe who arrived about 30 minutes late riding at the back of a truck waving his party trade mark, the fist, together with his wife, Grace, as supporters who had stood in parallel lines whistled and ululated in praise of the veteran politician.

In the stadium, Mr. Mugabe - who spoke in vernacular throughout, accused the West, especially Britain and America, of pushing for regime change in Zimbabwe so they can easily access the country's vast resources such as gold, diamonds and platinum.

The president said this was the agenda of the West when Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and killed during uprisings in 2011 and when Saddam Hussein was hanged during the Iraq war.

Mr. Mugabe urged the western world not to interfere with Zimbabwe's internal affairs.

He accused Finance Minister Tendai Biti of misusing a credit facility extended to Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund. Studio 7 could not get a comment from Biti.

The president took the opportunity to criticise MDC-T Chitungwiza councillors who were fired by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on allegations of corruption.

Mr. Mugabe said elected official should represent the interests of the electorate instead of concentrating on lining their pockets.

Turning to housing issues, the president said his administration will not allow property owners to lose their houses to their local authorities for non-payment of taxes.

He also urged supporters of all political parties to desist from violence as the country gears for the July 31 national elections.

Following the rally, Mr. Mugabe abandoned another election rally scheduled for Chinhoyi and headed to Lesotho to attend King Letsi III's 49th birthday to be held Wednesday.