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Tsvangirai said there was a one-in-one-thousand chance that the accident that killed his wife was intentional

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee that there was a one-in-one-thousand chance that the accident that killed his wife Susan less than a month after he assumed office was an intentional act.

Tsvangirai and his wife were passengers in the second car of a three-car convoy when the accident occurred on 6 March about 75 km along the Harare-Masvingo road. They were on their way to Tsvangirai’s home in Buhera.

Information Minister Nelson Chamisa urged the United States government to issue a statement stating what Tsvangirai had told the ambassador.

There was wide speculation that the accident was the work of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09HARARE194, TSVANGIRAI’S CAR ACCIDENT

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE194

2009-03-09 13:33

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO4008

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0194/01 0681333

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 091333Z MAR 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4150

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2683

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2804

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1270

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2072

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2428

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2852

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5280

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1973

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000194

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B.WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI’S CAR ACCIDENT

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (U) THIS IS AN ACTION REQUEST, PLEASE SEE PARAGRAPH 10.

 

2. (SBU) The Ambassador spoke with Prime Minister Morgan

Tsvangirai on March 7, and USAID officials and Zimbabwean

lawyers spoke with witnesses on the same day. It is clear

that the incident in which Mr. Tsvangirai’s car was struck

and his wife lost her life was an unfortunate accident. In

the midst of growing confusion in Zimbabwe about what took

place and whether ZANU-PF was possibly involved, Tsvangirai

spoke to the press today and affirmed that this was an

accident. Tsvangirai is in good physical health, but appears

emotionally devastated. END SUMMARY.

 

3. (SBU) Tsvangirai and his wife Susan were passengers in

the second car of a three-car convoy at about 4 pm local time

on March 6 traveling about 75 kilometers south of Harare en

route to Tsvangirai’s rural home of Buhera. Tsvangirai told

the Ambassador at the hospital on March 7 that he heard a

loud noise, looked up, and saw a truck traveling in the

opposite direction hit a buckled portion of the road. The

truck swerved to avoid the first car in Tsvangirai’s convoy,

then appeared to hit soft tar and lost control. It then

struck the rear side of Tsvangirai’s car which then

overturned. Tsvangirai told the Ambassador there was a

one-in-one-thousand chance that this was an intentional act.

 

4. (SBU) The truck that hit Tsvangirai was the lead truck of

a two-truck team that was part of a health project supporting

the distribution of HIV commodities in Zimbabwe. The driver

of the second truck, Daniso Machipisa, said the incident

occurred on a patch of road that had just been repaired. The

tar had been built into a hump across the road at the end of

the patch and was still wet. The driver of the truck that

struck Tsvangirai, Mwanda, told Machipisa after the incident

that he drove through a patch of wet tar and over the wet

hump at which point his truck swerved and side-swiped what

turned out to be Tsvangirai’s vehicle. (NOTE: The

Harare-Masvingo road where the crash occurred is notorious

for potholes and accidents. END NOTE.)

 

5. (SBU) According to witnesses, Susan Tsvangirai was

ejected from the car. She was taken to a local hospital but

was either dead on arrival or died shortly thereafter.

Mwanda was taken to a nearby police station and has been in

custody since.

 

6. (SBU) Both trucks belong to a contractor whose HIV/AIDS

work is co-financed by the U.S. and UK. The trucks, which

were purchased by the USG, carry 81 TCE license plates and

have USAID insignias. The “81” refers to the U.S. and the

“TCE” indicates they are involved in assistance. The plate

confers no diplomatic status although entry is duty free.

Neither Machipisa nor Mwanda is a USG employee.

 

7. (SBU) In the Ambassador’s March 7 meeting with

Tsvangirai, the prime minister was lucid and appeared in

relatively good health considering the circumstance. He told

the Ambassador he was focused on the funeral and then

Qthe Ambassador he was focused on the funeral and then

returning to his office. Later in the day, he was flown to

Botswana for precautionary testing and returned today. The

Ambassador saw him soon after his return. Bandages had been

removed from his head and he said he felt fine. In contrast

to the March 7 meeting, however, he seemed emotionally

devastated. No doubt his loss is settling in. He is

fortified by the presence at his home of his children and

other immediate family, and hundreds of well-wishers from his

home village and from the MDC.

 

HARARE 00000194 002 OF 002

 

 

 

8. (U) Upon returning from Botswana, Tsvangirai spoke to the

press and stated that the incident was an accident, and not

foulplay. He told journalists, as he had told the Ambassador

on March 7, that there was a one-in-one-thousand chance that

this was intentional. The MDC has said it believes the crash

was an accident, but said it would conduct an investigation.

 

9. (SBU) A private church service will take place tomorrow

(Tsvangirai’s 57th birthday), and later in the day a public

memorial event in a local stadium. The funeral will take

place in Buhera on Wednesday.

 

10. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: In the wake of the accident,

there has been significant confusion about what took place

and speculation about whether ZANU-PF was involved.

Tsvangirai’s statement to the press was a positive step. MDC

spokesman and Minister of Information Nelson Chamisa

requested that the USG issue a statement supporting

Tsvangirai’s statement. We suggest the following:

 

“We are aware that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has

spoken to the press and stated his belief that the incident

in which his car was struck and his wife killed was an

accident. This is our understanding as well. We again

extend our condolences to Mr. Tsvangirai, his family, and the

people of Zimbabwe; and wish him the best when he returns to

work to confront the difficult problems facing Zimbabwe.”

END ACTION REQUEST.

 

MCGEE

(8 VIEWS)

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