Zimbabwe Prime Minister talks about losing wife

In what British newspaper The Observer said was Tsvangirai’s first interview since his two-year-old grandson Shawn drowned in a swimming pool two weeks ago, the prime minister said others were trying to help him cope with his grief.

Amid questions of a possible assassination attempt on the prime minister, Tsvangirai, who was injured in the March 6 car crash that killed his wife, insisted: "really, it was an accident."

"I don’t know how to replace her," he told the weekly, in Harare.

A lifelong companion

"It’s almost unimaginable that anyone could ever take her place, with the same qualities and the same love and care.

"Susan and I were married for 31 years. As you can imagine, that made her almost a lifelong companion. She was humble. Not very pretentious at all.

"Sometimes you become totally absent-minded. You’re missing something, looking everywhere for it. And then you realise you are not feeling her presence.

"She was a very clear adviser on many issues both in the party and in the family. Losing her is a real personal loss.

"People have said, ‘Do this, do that’ to overcome the grief. It’s only natural for people to feel sorry, but really the question is that it is a personal life experience that I have to go through on a daily basis."

His grandson Shawn’s parents, who live in Canada, were back in Zimbabwe for Susan Tsvangirai’s funeral when the toddler drowned.

"When Shawn died the immediate reaction from me was, ‘Why me?’," the 57-year-old said.

"We thought that with the passing of Susan we had come to accept the reality. But Shawn’s death was the more devastating for Gari and Lillian," he said, referring to his son and daughter-in-law.

"It was another bolt from the blue. The boy was just a lovely boy."

It will take time

Tsvangirai became prime minister in February in a new power-sharing government with his long-time rival, veteran President Robert Mugabe. The administration is tasked with rebuilding Zimbabwe from years of ruin.

He denied that Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party entered a coalition with his Movement for Democratic Change to obtain the lifting of US sanctions and European travel sanctions on the elite.

"We are the majority party, how can we be used?" Tsvangirai said.

"Western scepticism is justifiable because nearly 30 years of one man creates an impression that there will never be change. But let me tell you there is an irreversible process happening and no one wants to go back.

"The international community must accept that the transition is not an event, it is a slow process that requires changes of mindsets and cultures of governance. It is going to take some time."