Zimbabwe's path to democracy fraught with danger following 'assassination attempt' on President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Smoke billows from the scene of the blast which happened moments after Mr Mnangagwa left the stage. Credit: AP/PA

Wearing his trademark scarf in the colours of the nation he controversially leads, this was the narrowest of escapes for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In the smoke and confusion following an explosion at a political rally he was speaking at, he was ushered to safety – apparently unscathed.

Zimbabwean media have called the blast an "assassination attempt".

But there are injuries to senior government figures – including one of his two vice presidents and his wife.

Mr Mnangagwa came to power in November last year – when the military moved against Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s leader since independence.

Many called the 75-year-old's seizure of power a coup, so keenly contested elections planned for July are vital to confer legitimacy on a new government.

Mr Mnangagwa had been addressing a rally of supporters in the second city of Bulawayo, an opposition strong-hold, when the blast took place.

Some will blame the blast on rogue elements in the old regime.

Certainly, Zimbabwe’s path to democracy is now fraught with danger.