Zimbabwe prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai left hospital today, a day after a car crash that killed his wife, as his party demanded an independent probe and said proper security could have averted the tragedy. Mr Tsvangirai walked out of the Avenues Clinic in Harare, accompanied by his deputy Thokozani Khupe, Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma. A longtime rival of President Robert Mugabe who recently became prime minister in a unity government aimed at ending months of political turmoil, Mr Tsvangirai sustained head and neck injuries in the crash. "Police are making their own investigation, we are also making our own," said finance minister Tendai Biti, also the number two leader of Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party. Mr Biti said that the crash could have been avoided had Mr Tsvangirai been traveling with a police escort. "The authorities could have avoided this omission," he said. An MDC lawmaker, Eddie Cross, said "the party will insist on an independent investigation." The Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, and his wife Grace have visited the hospital where Mr Tsvangirai was being treated. Mr and Mrs Tsvangirai were headed to their hometown in Buhera district where he was to hold a rally today, but their car was hit by a freight lorry and Susan Tsvangirai died at the scene, party officials said. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was quoted by state television as saying that the lorry had crossed into the oncoming lane and sideswiped Mr Tsvangirai's vehicle.
"The 4x4 Toyota Landcruiser is understood to have overturned and rolled thrice," the report said. Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman, James Maridadi, told reporters at the hospital in Harare that the accident happened at 4pm, and that two other people were in the car. "The driver of the lorry appeared to be sleeping," an MDC minister said. Mr Tsvangirai was taken to a private hospital, where he was in stable condition, a senior party official said after visiting him. Another source who had visited him at the hospital said Mr Tsvangirai's head appeared swollen, but doctors had not yet commented on his condition.
Mr Tsvangirai was sworn in three weeks ago as prime minister, joining his long-time rival Mr Mugabe in a unity government. Ministers from both Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF were seen entering the hospital to visit him. But the crash raised new concerns about the success of the government that has been shaken by the arrest of Roy Bennett, a one-time white farmer who became a top aide to Mr Tsvangirai, and disputes over the appointments of top officials. "Tensions are still high and there is a lot of mistrust going on between the two political divides," Sydney Masamvu, a Zimbabwe analyst at the International Crisis Group, said. "So really there is a lot of grey areas and this tragedy coming against this background raises a lot of questions. That's not to say that we are pointing any fingers," he added. Dirk Kotze of the University of South Africa said with the cause of the accident still unclear, any perception of foul play could have serious consequences. "If it was just an accident and there was no foul play... then it will not have direct political consequences for Zimbabwe," he said. "But it will bring a major crisis if there is any suggestion that it was not just an accident." Britain said it was "deeply saddened" by Susan Tsvangirai's death and prime minister Gordon Brown sent his condolences. * With agencies