Friday, April 17, 2009

Was Tsvangirai accident not an accident?

That is the question members of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party are asking about the automobile accident last month that injured Prime Minister (and MDC chief) Morgan Tsvangirai.

You may remember the story of the car accident last month where Tsvangirai's car rolled over three times after being knocked off the road by a truck. While Tsvangirai himself was not critically injured, his wife Susan was killed. Immediately rumors swirled that the 'accident' was really an assassination attempt carried out by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party to eliminate their main political rival. USAID, the United States overseas development agency, quickly stepped in to say that the truck belonged to them, not the Zimbabwe government; Tsvangirai himself made a statement just days after the crash to say, he believed that it was, in fact, just a tragic accident.

But now senior MDC officials are telling the BBC that after an initial investigation, they believe the collision was intentional, noting that 'traffic accidents' have killed at least two other prominent ZANU-PF critics in recent years. The MDC claims to have evidence that the USAID truck driver was a former Zimbabwean soldier and follower of Robert Mugabe. They also note that the security detail in Tsvangirai's three-vehicle convoy - provided by the Mugabe-controlled Central Intelligence Organization - did not come to the aid of Morgan and Susan Tsvangirai after the crash, but did detain a white farmer who took pictures of the accident scene.

Mugabe made a very public show of support to Tsvangirai following the accident, including rushing to visit him in the hospital, it seemed in an effort to tamp down the assassination rumors. An uneasy truce has existed between the two men since the accident allowing Zimbabwe to make some tentative steps forward in repairing their shattered economy, though it remains to be seen how relations between the MDC and ZANU-PF will be affected by these new allegations.
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