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MDC to examine Tsvangirai crash

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Morgan Tsvangirai leaves hospital

Zimbabwe's MDC party says it will carry out its own investigation into the cause of Friday's crash in which Morgan Tsvangirai's wife Susan died.

But officials have said nothing to suggest they suspect foul play.

US embassy officials say the lorry which collided with Mr Tsvangirai's car belonged to a partner organisation of the US government aid agency USAID.

MDC general-secretary Tendai Biti paid tribute to Mrs Tsvangirai, calling her "a mother to us and to our struggle".

On Saturday afternoon, Mr Tsvangirai, 56, left the Harare clinic where he was treated for injuries sustained in the crash.

The previous evening he was visited in hospital by his political rival President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.

The vehicle Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was riding in during his accident on 6 March
The Tsvangirais' vehicle rolled several times
State TV reported that the prime minister had suffered some injuries to his head and neck.

Mr Tsvangirai was on his way to his rural home in Buhera, where he planned to hold a weekend rally, when the crash occurred near Beatrice at about 1600 local time (1400 GMT) on Friday.

It is thought that a lorry carrying freight crossed into the lane in which Mr Tsvangirai's 4x4 was travelling and side-swiped their vehicle, causing it to roll over three times.

The AFP news agency quoted a minister in Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party as saying the driver of the lorry had been asleep at the wheel.

Another report said the truck had hit a pothole in the road.

An official at the US embassy in Harare was quoted by AFP news agency as saying the truck belonged to an organisation partnered with the US government aid agency USAID.

"It belongs to a partner of USAID who deliver HIV/Aids [drugs] and other medical supplies," the official told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

All Zimbabwe's roads are in a poor state of repair after years of neglect, say correspondents.

Police escort

But in the news conference, Mr Biti said the accident could have been avoided if a police escort had been provided.

Map
"Logic would have demanded that police escort be provided to the prime minister to warn other traffic and this tragedy could have been avoided," he said.

However, correspondents point out that Mr Tsvangirai was not entirely comfortable with security provided by the new government, relying instead on his own security teams.

Mr Biti said police investigations were under way but said the party would carry out its own independent investigation.

Mr Biti, who broke down several times, said Mrs Tsvangirai was a "pillar of strength" to her husband and the party.

Earlier, senior MDC official Eddie Cross said her death would be "a huge blow for Morgan".

Shocked relatives and friends of the Tsvangirais have gathered at the family home.

Discreet

The crash came just two days after Mr Tsvangirai delivered his maiden speech to parliament after being sworn in as prime minister in Zimbabwe's power-sharing government.

He and his wife Susan, 51, who married in 1978, had six children.

A look at the important role Susan Tsvangirai played in her husband's life

The BBC's Andrew Harding, in Johannesburg, says that Mrs Tsvangirai was very discreet and stayed out of the limelight, but was a very important part of her husband's life.

She was a great source of strength to her husband when in the past he was charged with treason and assaulted for his opposition to Mr Mugabe, and sat through all his treason trial, our correspondent says.

She also made a point of visiting MDC members who were jailed while the party was in opposition, he adds.

Her death comes at a very challenging time for the fledgling power-sharing government, our correspondent says, and will only make matters more complicated.

The British foreign office and US state department sent their condolences to Mr Tsvangirai.



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