Page last updated at 18:12 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Crowds see Tsvangirai wife buried


Mourners attend burial of Susan Tsvangirai

Thousands of people have turned out to see Susan Tsvangirai, wife of Zimbabwe's prime minister, buried at their rural home in Buhera.

She died in a car crash last Friday in which her husband was injured.

Supporters of Mr Tsvangirai's MDC party were joined by diplomats, government officials and African heads of state.

Her death has triggered an unlikely political truce between President Robert Mugabe and the MDC, to "unite us in spirit" according to one MDC leader.

Speaking at a church service for Susan Tsvangirai on Tuesday, Mr Mugabe said the "hand of God" was behind the crash.

After Mr Mugabe's comforting words Tendai Biti - MDC secretary-general and finance minister in the unity government - said the president was "after all a human being".

"I think if there is one thing that Mrs Tsvangirai has done, it is not to unite us as that document purported to do - the document of the 15th September - but to try to unite us in spirit, " Mr Biti added, referring to the power-sharing agreement recently implemented.

We are sincerely saddened by the death of Susan and we hope that Morgan will remain strong
Robert Mugabe

Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn into office last month as part of the deal which is intended to rescue Zimbabwe's collapsed economy.

The Tsvangirais, who had been married for 31 years, were travelling to Buhera from the capital, Harare, when their car collided with an aid lorry near Beatrice on Friday afternoon.

The crash occurred about 50km (30 miles) south of the capital.

The prime minister was first treated in a Harare hospital and later flown to neighbouring Botswana for rest and medical tests.

The driver of the lorry has been charged with culpable homicide. His lawyers says he will plead not guilty.

The police have said the lorry side-swiped the prime minister's vehicle.

Mr Tsvangirai later said the crash was an accident, despite suspicions about her death because of past acrimony between him and Mr Mugabe.

'Life goes on'

On Tuesday, about 20,000 people attended a memorial service in the capital's Glamis Stadium.

Large portraits of Susan Tsvangirai hung around the arena, where her husband spoke last month after being sworn in.


Mr Tsvangirai paid tribute to his wife, telling the crowds: "Let's celebrate her existence as God's gift to me and you."

Despite his bereavement, the prime minister said earlier that "life had to go on".

In his first public comments on the crash, Mr Mugabe, 85, said during a church service before the stadium ceremony: "I plead with you to accept it, it's the hand of God."

Most of the new administration which shares power between Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were also present at the memorial service.

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