By Violet Gonda
4 March 2010
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai narrowly escaped a potentially serious car accident, when a tyre burst on his recently issued government vehicle two weeks ago. Tsvangirai had gone to assess the food security issue in Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Midlands provinces. The Prime Minister’s office says preliminary investigations showed the Toyota Land Cruiser had multiple faults, even though it was supposed to have been new.
His spokesperson, James Maridadi, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday: “When we were travelling from Mat South, the rear wheel of the vehicle that he was travelling in burst and obviously we were concerned because it was supposed to be an armoured vehicle with a run flat device. And upon inspection of the vehicle we discovered that the run flat device was not working. It was actually in the boot of the vehicle.”
“And the boot of the vehicle itself could not be opened to retrieve the spare wheel. When it was eventually opened we discovered that the spare wheel was damaged.”
Maridadi added: “The inspection also discovered that the hinges of all the doors of the vehicle were loose. So what it meant was that had it been going at a fast speed, if the driver had lost control of the vehicle and the vehicle had been involved in an accident – like had overturned, then all the doors would have come off. That would have been very dangerous for the occupant of the vehicle, who was the Prime Minister.”
The incident raises questions about Tsvangirai’s security. On March 6th last year he was involved in a tragic car accident which resulted in his wife’s death. At the time Tsvangirai said the car crash was an accident although many Zimbabweans remain deeply suspicious because of the numerous unexplained car accidents that have killed various high profile political opponents of Mugabe.
Maridadi said the latest vehicle the Prime Minister was using to travel out of town should have been issued with a delivery mileage, but that was not the case. He said the vehicle has now been taken to other departments for investigations. He said: “That vehicle should not have been given to anyone to use, let alone a Prime Minister, because it was in no condition to be used by anyone.”
Meanwhile Radio VOP alleged that a confidential security document from Tsvangirai’s office revealed that the Land Cruiser had been tampered with before being delivered to the Prime Minister by the Central Mechanical and Equipment Department (CMED). It was not possible to verify this information.