Zimbabwe PM car crash, Tsvangirai injured, Tsvangirai wife killed
AP Photo
The wrecked vehicle involved in Friday’s accident that injured the Zimbabwean Prime Minister
and killed his wife.

Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Says Car Crash an Accident

March 09, 2009 12:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
After voicing suspicion about a Friday car crash that killed his wife, Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai now says it was an accident.

Truck Collision Raises Questions

On Friday, a truck hit a car carrying Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his wife of more than 30 years, Susan, as they were driving on a two-lane road between Harare and Buhera. 

Tendai Biti, a member of Tsvangirai's opposition party, said the prime minister's car should have been escorted by police. A Movement for Democratic Change party source told CNN over the weekend that the prime minister initially believed the truck deliberately drove toward his car, a concern echoed elsewhere.

"I'm skeptical about any motor vehicle accident in Zimbabwe involving an opposition figure. President Mugabe has a history of strange car accidents when someone lo and behold dies—it's sort of his M.O., of how they get rid of people they don't like," said Tom McDonald in an interview with CNN. McDonald was the United State's ambassador to Zimbabwe from 1997 to 2001.

However, he noted that car accidents are common in Zimbabwe, and "It's certainly plausible that this was just one of those tragic things."
But British officials believe the collision was accidental. The truck that hit the couple was part of an AIDS project funded by the United States and Britain. 

"All indications are that this was a genuine accident," an unnamed British Foreign Office spokesperson told Voice of America Sunday.

The prime minister had flown to Botswana for medical treatment, but was back at his home today, where he told friends the crash was an accident, Al Jazeera reported.

"When something happens, there is always speculation but I want to say in this case, if there was any foul play, it was one in a thousand," Al Jazeera quoted Tsvangirai as saying.

His wife's funeral is scheduled for this Wednesday, with a memorial service Tuesday. The couple have six children.

Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister in February, several months after his party won a majority of seats in the country's parliament. The troubled country is fighting poverty, inflation and a cholera epidemic that has killed thousands.

Background: Power-sharing agreement does not end tension, conflict

It has been six months since Mugabe signed a power-sharing agreement with Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party for control of the country’s government. But agreeing on how to unify the government has not come easily.

Mugabe remains president under the agreement; the two men must overcome their differences to govern a country that is in the midst of an economic meltdown as well as a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 3,000 people. 

Besides the obvious challenges, Tsvangira and Mugabe have admitted their resistance to working together. “This is part of a transition arrangement that has been negotiated,” Tsvangirai has said in reference to the deal. “No one is joining anyone.”

As recently as Jan. 19, SW Radio Africa reported that a senior party official said that discussions had “completely broken down and suggested the power sharing talks were doomed to fail.”

There was bickering as Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of “grabbing all key ministries such as defense, information, foreign affairs, finance and home affairs,” CNN explained in January. MDC chairman Nelson Chamisa was quoted as saying that the group would not “commit political suicide” by entering “positions of authority without the attendant and consequent power to enable us to deliver on change, food and jobs.”

Peace talks originally began in July, following months of policial violence that stemmed from the country’s disputed presidential elections in March 2008. Many wondered if the talks would ever result in a deal, as the two rival factions continued to feud.

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