/ 10 March 2009

Zimbabweans flock to Tsvangirai memorial service

Zimbabweans began making their way by foot and car on Tuesday to a stadium in the capital Harare to bid farewell to Susan Tsvangirai, the popular wife of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who was killed in a car crash at the weekend.

Scores of people had already gathered at Glamis Stadium for the noon memorial service that is expected to be thronged by supporters of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Some had hitched a lift from 150km away.

Susan Tsvangirai died on Friday after an aid truck struck the car in which she and the prime minister were travelling to a party rally in their hometown of Buhera. She will be buried in Buhera on Wednesday.

Given Zimbabwe’s long history of politicians being injured or killed in mysterious car crashes, many MDC supporters immediately suspected foul play by die-hard supporters of President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai’s rival.

But Tsvangirai himself on Monday discounted the theory, insisting his wife’s death was an accident.

The tragic death of Tsvangirai’s wife of 31 years, less than a month after he became prime minister of a power-sharing government with Mugabe, has traumatised MDC supporters.

The MDC said the quiet, motherly figure had been a ”pillar of strength” to the party leader during his 10 tough years as opposition leader.

Hundreds of people crammed into the couple’s modest home on Monday to pay their respects to the family, singing hymns late into the night in the driving rain.

Tsvangirai suffered minor injuries to the head and neck in the crash, which occurred when a truck carrying foreign aid swerved and sideswiped his vehicle, missing other vehicles in his convoy.

A court on Monday granted the driver of the truck, who faces charges of culpable homicide, bail of 100 Zimbabwe dollars, a fraction of a US dollar. — Sapa-dpa