Car Crash Suspicions Linger In Zimbabwe
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Thousands of people gathered yesterday in Zimbabwe to mourn the death of Susan Tsvangirai, the wife of the new prime minister. She was killed in a traffic accident. Her husband Morgan was with her at the time and suffered some injury. The prime minister says this crash was probably accidental, but the fear of foul play provides a window into the deep suspicions that linger in Zimbabwe. Here's NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton.
OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON: Speculation has been swirling around Zimbabwe about the death of Susan Tsvangirai. Many believe the road crash was an assassination attempt on her husband, Morgan Tsvangirai, because of the longstanding political acrimony between the new prime minister and Zimbabwe's veteran President Robert Mugabe.
The rivals became partners in a long-awaited power-sharing government last month. In his first public comments on the crash, Mugabe told hundreds of mourners at a church service for Mrs. Tsvangirai that her death was the hand of God.
President ROBERT MUGABE (Zimbabwe): Rest assured we are with you, Robert Tsvangirai, our new prime minister.
Unidentified Group: (Singing) (unintelligible)
QUIST-ARCTON: Morgan and Susan Tsvangirai were married for 31 years and had six children. She stood by Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, during a long treason trial and when he was beaten up by political thugs. Zimbabweans are calling Mrs. Tsvangirai, whose body lay in a casket draped with white blossoms, a people's hero and the mother of the nation.
In his eulogy, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, a Tsvangirai party stalwart, spoke for many at a rally in her honor after church.
Mr. TENDAI BITI (Finance Minister, Zimbabwe): (unintelligible) we are so short that we couldn't even feel the pain. We are so traumatized that (unintelligible) couldn't feel the pain. Why, why, why?
QUIST-ARCTON: While he continues to breathe, Morgan Tsvangirai says that his wife would have wanted him to return to work to help Zimbabwe recover from its multiple crises.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Johannesburg.
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