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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Says Crash That Killed His Wife Was Accidental

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Monday he now believes the highway crash in which his wife Susan died on Friday was an accident, helping to dispel lingering suspicions among Zimbabweans that some political intent guided the truck that hit their vehicle.

Mr. Tsvangirai was speaking to reporters at his home in a Harare suburb after returning from Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, where he received follow-up medical care for injuries to his head and neck sustained in the crash at around 4 p.m. on Friday.

Authorities continued their investigation into the crash. The driver, Chinoona Mwanda, 35, has been charged with culpable homicide, but his lawyer, Chris Mhike, said the accident was caused by the poor condition of the roadway which threw the vehicle into the convoy of three vehicles in which the prime minister and his late wife were traveling.

A U.S embassy spokesman said the truck was operated by a development organization under contract to the U.S Agency for International Development, or USAID, and its British counterpart, the Department for International Development, to provide HIV/Aids and other medical supplies to Zimbabwe.

The spokesman, Mark Weinberg, said the embassy offered its deepest condolences to the Tsvangirai family for its loss, adding, “We are going to work with the authorities however we can to make sure this is resolved to the satisfaction of everyone here in Zimbabwe.”

Monday evening the Tsvangirai family was gathered in mourning at the Tsvangirai home in Strathaven, outside Harare, where Susan Tsvangirai's body was to lie in state overnight

Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported on the scene.

Senior officials of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change formation, meanwhile, made plans for a memorial service Tuesday, while those with positions in the government looked to maintain operations during Mr. Tsvangirai’s initial period of mourning.

The prime minister's spokesman, James Maridadi, told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that Mr. Tsvangirai said his wife would have wanted him to finish what he started, and added that he intends to "soldier on" until Zimbabwean national unity has been realized.

Government sources said Mr. Tsvangirai asked Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khuphe to assume his duties for the interim.

Minister of State Gordon Moyo of the prime minister’s office told reporter Chris Gande that President Robert Mugabe would make an announcement to that effect.

Moyo said the tragedy will mean some delay in progress by the government, but he said it will continue to take action on relieving the population and reviving the economy.

Zimbabweans in South Africa voiced grief at Susan Tsvangirai's death mixed with lingering suspicion over the incident, as VOA correspondent Scott Bobb reported.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...