US disowns truck that killed Zimbabwe PM’s wife

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The United States has moved to put distance between itself and the crash that killed the wife of Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister.

In a statement from its embassy in Harare, USA said to “The truck that was involved in the accident with the Prime Minister’s vehicle… does not belong to USAID. It was purchased with USAID funds by a contractor and belonged to the contractor,” the embassy said.

The unnamed contractor was delivering essential HIV and AIDS drugs and medical supplies to health clinics under an effort co-financed by USAID and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID), it added. “The driver of the truck, a Zimbabwean national, was an employee of the contractor, not a USAID employee,” it said.

Jonathan Moyo, the independent MP for Tsholotsho North, demanded an enquiry into USAID activities this week, saying its link with the tragic crash “added a worrying dimension”, despite Tsvangirai’s public stance that it was a genuine accident.

Another USAID driver, Frank Muchirahondo, was recently charged with attempting to assassinate the Commander of Zimbabwe’s Air Force, Air Marshal Perence Shiri in a gun attack. The matter is yet to go to trial.

Moyo said: “When something of this kind happens once, it raises eyebrows. When it happens twice, with such tragic consequences, and so soon, all hell breaks loose (…) The fact that the British Foreign Office, followed by the Americans, was quick to issue a statement saying this was a genuine accident invites serious curiosity which can only be removed after an international investigation.

“Nobody should think that all Zimbabweans are foolish to believe that a genuine accident is one that does not implicate Zanu PF. Indeed, it would utterly be ludicrous for anyone to believe that car accidents in Zimbabwe are genuine only if or when they involve USAID vehicles or drivers with British interests.”

Moyo said: “The US embassy statement today is adding fuel to a fire that they started, and this does not help matters because there are now very serious and worrying questions (…) How can an American-registered car, purchased with American money, driven by a driver hired from Britain and paid with American money; be owned by a British agency funded by British money and formed from the ashes of a British colonial institution?”

Chinoona Mwanda, the driver of the truck involved in the crash has been charged with culpable homicide. His lawyer Chris Mhike said Mwanda was not to blame for the accident. The defence lawyer will blame the poor state of the road when Mwanda’s trial begins.

Meanwhile, at least 15 people returning from the burial of Susan Tsvangirai were hospitalised on Wednesday after a bus crash at the same spot where she was killed on March 6, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said.

The bus crash at the notorious black spot along the Harare-Masvingo highway where Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his wife were involved in the horrific crash is said to have involved a hit-and-run truck which failed to stop.

Eye witnesses have identified the vehicle that caused the crash as a Toyota Vigo which failed to stop at the accident scene. Police are investigating.

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