Strong support from Africa as Tsvangirai buries his wife

Harare – Ministers from several African governments and thousands of Zimbabweans joined Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the burial of his wife Susan in her home district of Buhera on Wednesday, five days after her death in a car crash.

At least 5,000 people looked on as Tsvangirai’s wife of 31 years was laid to rest next to the couple’s modest rural home in the little village of Humanikwa, south-west of Harare.

Some mourners had walked 60 kilometres to be there. Many others, including Tsvangirai, made their way by car from Harare, along the road on which she was killed last Friday while travelling with the prime minister to a rally in Buhera.

On passing the site of the crash, which has been dogged by suspicion of foul play by opponents of the country’s new power- sharing government, some people pulled in to survey the spot.

South Africa, Kenya and Botswana were among the African countries that sent government ministers to the funeral, giving it a national flavour.

Tsvangirai, who was accompanied by his and Susan’s six children, was composed and grave throughout. President Robert Mugabe was not present Wednesday.

Susan’s death, less than a month after Tsvangirai became prime minister, sparked a huge outpouring of emotion in Zimbabwe, where many are still traumatized following a campaign of state-sponsored killings of opposition supporters last year.

She was killed when aid truck struck the couple’s 4×4 causing it to roll three times. Tsvangirai himself escaped with minor injuries.

Susan Tsvangirai’s death was immediately treated as suspicious by many MDC members, given Zimbabwe’s long history of mysterious car crashes involving politicians.

The suspicion is directed at hardline members of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, who are suspected of trying to scupper the country’s power- sharing government.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe have both appealed to Zimbabweans to accept her death was a genuine accident.

The driver of the truck was arrested at the weekend on charges of culpable homicide and since been granted bail.

Tsvangirai, who was sworn in exactly four weeks ago as prime minister, is expected to take around two weeks off work to grieve.

Analysts say his absence could stall progress on a recovery package.

Tsvangirai has been the face of Zimbabwe’s appeal for 2 billion US dollars in foreign aid towards rebuilding the battered economy.

A team of experts from the International Monetary Fund is in Zimbabwe to assess the country’s requirements. (dpa)