Zimbabwe Prime Minister's Wife Buried

11 March 2009

Morgan Tsvangirai wipes away tears at funeral of his wife, Susan Tsvangirai, March 10, 2009
Morgan Tsvangirai wipes away tears at funeral of his wife, Susan Tsvangirai, 10 Mar 2009
In Zimbabwe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wife, Susan, was buried Wednesday. The funeral came one day after a mass memorial attended by thousands of people.

The late wife of Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was buried near her rural home of Buhera, south of Harare in a ceremony attended by hundreds of followers and amidst a national outpouring of grief.

Susan Tsvangirai, a 50 year-old mother of six, was killed Friday in a car accident that also injured her husband.

The Secretary-General of Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, Tendai Biti, eulogized her at a memorial Tuesday attended by thousands of mourners.

"Many of us are in pain, but the majority of us were so shocked that we couldn't feel the pain.," said Biti. "We were so traumatized and brutalized we couldn't feel the pain."

The accident occurred on a road south of Harare when a truck hit the Tsvangirai's vehicle causing it to roll several times.

Investigations have been launched.

Mr. Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe have said the incident was an accident. But suspicion lingers among many Zimbabweans that it may have been an assassination attempt. The country has a history of political related violence.

Mr. Mugabe expressed condolences on behalf of the nation during a church service before the rally.

"Honorable prime minister, rest assured that our hearts this day and the days to follow, we will be with you," he said. "Once again we are very sorry. Our sympathies and condolences."

The Zimbabwean president also urged all Zimbabweans to support the prime minister in the new power-sharing government.

"We are with you and sincerely with you," said Mugabe. "We shall do our best, our possible best to ensure that the environment we created in the country is a conducive environment."

Mr. Mugabe noted that all the parties had lost loved ones and said the violence should stop.

Mr. Tsvangirai joined Mr. Mugabe in a government of national unity one month ago as part of a power sharing agreement. The agreement was aimed at ending a political standoff that followed disputed and sometimes violent elections last year.

The new government is trying to contain a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 4,000 people. It is also trying to revive education and public services in the face of economic decline and a shortage of public revenues.

The two Zimbabwean leaders have appealed for western governments to lift sanctions imposed because of authoritarianism and human rights violations under the previous government.

The Australian government Wednesday became the first western power to lift a ban on non-humanitarian aid. It announced that it would provide $6 million in direct aid to help ease the suffering of the Zimbabwean people. One-half would go to restore water and sanitation services. The other half would go to pay salaries of public health workers.

The European Union and the United States have said they would continue to provide humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe but would maintain sanctions until true political change is achieved.

The new government has also appealed to multinational aid agencies for funds to pay salaries of teachers and civil servants and to restore public services.

A delegation from the International Monetary Fund is in Zimbabwe following a two-year absence. The delegation reportedly has expressed sympathy for the plight of the country but said regulations prevent it from providing new funds until the government resumes payments on its outstanding debt with the fund.

Other multilateral lenders have cited similar internal regulations as preventing any new loans.

The Southern African Development Community, which mediated the Zimbabwe negotiations, is preparing to hold a regional aid summit in the coming weeks. The Zimbabwean government says it needs $2 billion this year to revive services and jump-start the economy.