Prime Minister says car crash was an accident
By Violet Gonda
9 March 2009
On Saturday Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai left hospital wearing bandages on his head and was immediately flown to Botswana. Botswana’s President Ian Khama has been a rare voice of criticism against Mugabe, in the region and Tsvangirai has often retreated to the country.
According to reports it was for further medical tests, although there were those who said it was over security concerns. But he returned home from Botswana on Monday and told mourners the car crash that resulted in his wife’s death was an accident.
He told mourners gathered at his Strathaven home: "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.”
"It was an accident and unfortunately it took her life.' He said: "We know that we shall all die, but let's celebrate the life of Susan because we have gone through trials and tribulations together."
George Sibotshiwe a former aide of the MDC President told SW Radio Africa that the MDC was ruling out nothing. He said that ‘it’s impossible for us to say we rule out foul play.’
Sibotshiwe believes the accident could have been prevented if the MDC leader had been given proper security. He said ZANU PF still has not returned Tsvangirai’s bullet proof vehicle, which they confiscated last March during the election period. “While we were working to protect the President of the MDC, it was clear that Mugabe and his people actually wanted the President of the MDC exposed and that is the reason they took away the armoured vehicle,” Sibotshiwe said.
A request to return the vehicle was made when the inclusive government was formed, but it has still not been returned and there has been no explanation. Sibotshiwe said Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono has a bullet proof vehicle, but Mr Tsvangirai has been given ordinary vehicles that are not armoured and have no bullet proof protection.
The British and American governments have both said they believed the crash was a tragic accident. Nonetheless, because of numerous unexplained accidents that have killed many of Mugabe’s high profile political opponents, it makes it very difficult for many Zimbabweans to believe that ZANU PF did not have a hand in the tragedy.
Those who died ‘mysteriously’ in car accidents include Christopher Ushewokunze, Brigadier Armstrong Gunda, Border Gezi, Moven Mahachi, Elliot Manyika, Zororo Duri, Justice Ziyambi, Mthandazo Ndema Ngwenya, Witness Rukarwa, Sydney Malunga, William Ndangana, "Nikita" Mangena, Josiah Tongogara, activist Christopher Giwa and businessman Peter Pamire.
Journalist Angus Shaw said because there is a culture and belief that car accidents are often staged in Zimbabwe, there is now a need to conduct a full and thorough investigation in the latest accident. However he said the country no longer has adequate forensic facilities for such an investigation. He cited the recent death of ZANU PF political commissar Elliot Manyika in December, saying there has been no forensic report on the cause of his car accident. Similarly there have been no public inquests into the deaths of Manyika’s predecessors Border Gezi and Moven Mahachi, who both died in freak accidents.
Because of the history of convenient car accident deaths there will always be two schools of thought about whether or not the crash that killed Susan Tsvangirai was actually an assassination attempt on her husband.
Shaw said the MDC is demanding a full report and as they are now in a position of influence they may be able to push for a thorough inquiry. “I think the conditions are different and this may be the first case where we might get an inquest.”
Meanwhile analysts say the untimely death of Mrs Tsvangirai has the potential of either breaking or cementing the delicate inclusive government.
Political detainees, including MDC senior officials Roy Bennett, Ghandi Mudzingwa and Chris Dhlamini are still in police detention. Furthermore the political parties are still fighting over the appointments of senior government officials, among other issues, and the magistrate who tried to follow the rule of law and release Bennett was arrested.
Political analyst, Professor John Makumbe, said: “The bad blood between the MDC and ZANU PF still exists. So a thing like this raises more suspicion.”