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Prime min. Tsvangirai leaves for Botswana after crash

By Adriana Stuijt     Mar 7, 2009 in Politics
It has come to light that the heavy truck which crashed into the car of Zimbabwean prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, killing his wife Susan, belonged to the United States' Agency for International development. The driver now is in police custody.
Zimbabwe's co-ruling MDC party spokesmen have meanwhile also blamed the pro-Mugabe Zimbabwean police's very poor security measures for the deadly accident in which Tsvangirai also was hurt and an aide injured.
Truck went straight for my car...
Tsvangirai aide Dennis Murira said 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. “What he told me was that the truck went for his car,” said Murira, director of public affairs in the prime minister’s office. “That’s how he put it.”
The truck driver told the police that he had fallen asleep at the wheel, Mr. Murira said.
A grim-faced Tsvangirai was released from a Harare hospital on Saturday-afternoon, and flown to neighbouring Botswana to recuperate and rest. His face was still swollen from the injuries he sustained. He walked out of the Harare hospital in the company of security guards and senior MDC officials., a new widower.see
The crash, coming less than a month after Mr. Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister in a tense and long-negotiated power-sharing government with his rival, the increasingly autocratic president Robert Mugabe, have stirred deep suspicions in his party, but most officials were careful to say not enough was known about the collision to make any accusations of foul play.
Britain and the United States, both supporters of Tsvangirai, sent condolences. South Africa, which played a key role in negotiating a power-sharing deal that made Tsvangirai prime minister, also expressed condolences.
ABC News reports that the heavy truck which had crossed into the opposite lane and hit the Tsvangirai car, belonged to a contractor working for the United States' Agency for International development. The driver now is in police custody.ABC News quoted 'unnamed US officials' as saying that the truck - carrying an USAid insignia -- was purchased with US government funds.
See slide show of accident pictures here
The USAID truck's driver was hired by a British development agency to carry AIDS-medicines to Harare, the report by ABC News said. USAIDstands for the US Agency for International Development. It is claimed that it was 'on a routine delivery route' when it swerved into ongoing traffic on the potholed highway and struck the car the Tsvangirais were being driven in, causing it to overturn several times".
Two major US agencies in sub Saharan Africa:
There are several US agencies at work in sub-Saharan Africa: the US Trade and Development Agency, which has since 1981, invested over $90 million in the sub-Saharan region -- which in turn earned $1-billion in US food- and products' exports to African-partnership projects and US companies. It has an office in Johannesburg. The other agency, USAID, handles humanitarian shipments, often purchased from US TDA contract-companies throughout southern Africa. Officially, the US government is boycotting all goods-shipments to and from Zimbabwe, except humanitarian aid.
US official Jason Nagy runs the USTDA office in Johannesburg. USAID 's Zimbabwe/South Africa bureau representatives in Pretoria are Lorie Dobbins and Bill Penoyar; while its director for Southern African affairs are Eric Loken and regional advisor Bill Penoyar. Thus far none have commented officially.
Zimbabwe's new Finance Minister Tendai Biti, speaking as secretary-general of Tsvangirai's co-ruling party the Movement for Democratic Change, says 'police were now examining whether foul play was involved in the accident - however the party will also conduct its own investigation'.
"Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai should have been given proper security, Biti told reporters following a party meeting. "If there had been a police escort, what happened would not have happened; the authorities could have avoided this," he said.
Potholed highway
Tsvangirai's wife, Susan, was killed when a heavy truck suddenly veered into the opposite lane of the potholed highway on Friday and slammed into their vehicle. Susan Tsvangirai was thrown out of the car, which overturned and rolled three times. She was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital. The prime minister suffered some head and neck wounds and is wearing a neckbrace, but his condition was stable, Biti said.
Poorly-managed Zimbabwe's roads have fallen into a deplorable state under the rule of Robert Mugabe - even downtown Harare and Bulawayo suffer from deep potholes.
"Mr. Tsvangirai is stable, but he's in physical pain. The physical pain is however dwarfed by the loss of his wife," he said. "The late Susan Nyaradzo Tsvangirai was a mother not only to the Tsvangirai family, but also to the party and the nation," he said.
"She was a pillar of strength to the Prime Minister and to the broad membership of the MDC.The decisions the party took sometimes had the refining wisdom that came from Mrs Tsvangirai,” said Biti. see
The couple have six children. The crash occurred about 50 km south of Harare in Beatrice as Tsvangirai headed to his rural home in Buhera along the potholed Harare-Masvingo highway. Tsvangirai, who turns 57 on Tuesday, had six children with Susan, 50. She was very popular among MDC supporters who would to chant "mother, mother" when she appeared at rallies.
She avoided the political spotlight but stood by Tsvangirai throughout his struggle as Mugabe's most determined opponent.
The driver of the truck, which belongs to the United States Development Agency is in police custody.
The crash occurred about 50 km south of Harare as Tsvangirai headed to his rural home in Buhera along the potholed Harare-Masvingo highway. see And other relevant links to the budgets for USTDA and USAID
More about Tsvangirai deadly crash, Truck belongs usaid, Driver custody, Prime minister zimbabwe
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