Tsvangirai survives car crash, wife killed

March 7th, 2009 - 4:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Harare, March 7 (DPA) Zimbabwe’s new prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai was injured in a car crash that killed his wife Susan late Friday, confirmed party officials, who cited the suspicious circumstances as a possible indication of foul play.
The accident took place on a notoriously dangerous stretch of road about 100 km south of Harare.

Officials from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who asked not to be named, said his car was struck by the trailer of a heavy truck that swung out into the middle of the road when the two vehicles passed each other.

“Morgan is badly bruised and cut, but I’m afraid Susan has died,” said MDC member Eddie Cross.

Susan was on the side of the car that got hit and suffered “massive” injuries. Hospital sources said Tsvangirai, 56, did not appear to have any broken bones.

The couple was travelling in an MDC Landcruiser with two accompanying security vehicles, on their way to Buhera in the southeast of the country for an MDC rally.

“Morgan will be devastated, they were a real team,” said Cross. The couple were married in 1978 and have six children.

Susan played no significant political role, apart from being at Tsvangirai’s side at public occasions.

Observers said the accident was expected to ignite deep-seated suspicion in the MDC, which enjoys overwhelming support around the country, that the accident was sabotage.

President Robert Mugabe’s former regime has a long history of assassination plots, mass murder and torture of its opponents since it came to power in 1980. Some MDC supporters said that in the past some of Mugabe’s opponents have been killed in truck accidents.

Within an hour of Tsvangirai being brought to the private Avenues Clinic, Mugabe and his wife, Grace, arrived to express their condolences, followed by several other senior officials of the president’s ZANU(PF) party.

MDC’s Cross said that an early investigation team despatched to the site immediately after the accident reported that the front left tyre had a blowout.

“They were taking videos and pictures and then the police came and arrested them, and took their videos and pictures,” he said. “We don’t like that.”

Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister 24 days ago following a power-sharing agreement between ZANU(PF) and the MDC after inconclusive elections last year, although experts say that Tsvangirai and the MDC had the upper hand in presidential and parliamentary elections.

MDC officials said Tsvangirai had been issued a new S-class Mercedes Benz for official use soon after he was sworn in but he appeared to have reverted to the MDC’s Landcruiser and a smaller security escort for party business.

Before the power-sharing agreement, Mugabe’s regime continually harassed the former national trade union leader, had him charged with treason in a trumped-up coup plot, and repeatedly arrested him. In 2007, he was savagely beaten by police for walking into a police station to ask about MDC officials who had been arrested.

Zimbabwe is currently in the gravest crisis in the country’s history, with hyperinflation, mass poverty, food shortages and the international isolation of Mugabe.

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