Tsvangirai’s party wants separate probe into car crash

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party,Movement for Democratic Change,wants an independent probe into the car crash that killed his wife and injured him...

Written by Agencies | Harare | Published:March 8, 2009 11:48 pm

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party,Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),wants an independent probe into the car crash that killed his wife and injured him,a party member said on Saturday.

The SUV carrying Tsvangirai and his wife Susan was sideswiped by a truck on its way to deliver American-supplied medicines about 45 miles from Harare,American officials said on Saturday. Tsvangirai was hurt and Susan died on the spot. They were heading to the PM’s rural home for a rally when the crash occurred.

Tsvangirai told one of his aides that a large truck driving on the other side of the road had come toward his Land Cruiser,the middle vehicle in a three-car convoy. Tsvangirai,who suffered facial and neck injuries in the accident,was discharged from hospital on Saturday. He was greeted by scores of supporters as he left the hospital accompanied by his deputy Thokozani Khupe,Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma.

The crash,coming less than a month after Tsvangirai was sworn in as Prime Minister in a tense and long-negotiated power-sharing Government with his rival,President Robert Mugabe,stirred deep suspicions of foul play in his party. However,a senior American official said: “It looks like it truly was an accident.”

“From our initial understanding,it seems the truck hit a pothole,lost control,crossed the centre line and sideswiped Morgan’s car,causing it to turn over several times,” the official said.

The truck that hit the Toyota Landcruiser carrying Tsvangirai and his wife was purchased by a contractor with funds from the US Agency for International Development and was on a regular run to deliver anti-retroviral drugs used to treat people with AIDS,the official said.

“The party will insist on an independent investigation,” said Biti. “If there had been a police escort,what happened would not have happened,” he said.

“Tsvangirai is stable,but he’s in physical pain. The physical pain is dwarfed by the loss of his wife,” Biti said.

“They were a team; they were very effective and extremely close,” said Eddie Cross,policy coordinator for the party Tsvangirai has led for the past decade.

Mugabe and his wife Grace had visited Tsvangirai in hospital on Friday.

The US State Department said in a statement that the United States “deeply regrets” the accident.

“The accident has presented a challenging hurdle for the Zimbabwe fragile accord,” said Daniel Makina,an analyst based at the University of South Africa. “People are not going to stop speculating and will probably start pointing fingers.”

Tsvangirai claims to have been the target of four assassination attempts.

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