Another Zimbabwean opposition leader in a suspicious car crash

Almost exactly a year ago, Zimbabwe watchers will remember the ominous car crash (pictured above) that killed the wife of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and left the prime minister himself injured and shaken. The incident was written off as an accident, but many I’ve spoken with since in Zimbabwe don’t buy that story. Could it ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images
DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images
DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images

Almost exactly a year ago, Zimbabwe watchers will remember the ominous car crash (pictured above) that killed the wife of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and left the prime minister himself injured and shaken. The incident was written off as an accident, but many I've spoken with since in Zimbabwe don't buy that story. Could it really be a coincidence -- just months after Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change joined a power-sharing government with the arch-rival government of President Robert Mugabe? It seemed eerie, particularly in light of similar assasination rumors in the past.

So the cynic in me can't help but wonder if the car accident today involving MDC official and Finance Minister Tendai Biti was also an "accident." It's definitely possible that it was; unregulated roads, overstuffed lories, and plain and simple bad driving have led to many a preventable casualty in places such as Zimbabwe before. But Biti has also been a target before. Following the contested 2008 elections in the country, Biti was arrested -- certainly not for the first time.  He has been outspoken in his criticism of Mugabe's government, most recently in a release that blamed the president's ruling ZANU-PF party for sabotaging the power-sharing agreement. "Our message to Zanu PF is that we will not be baited by these nocturnal acts of self-destruction. However, we will also not allow ourselves or the people of Zimbabwe to be bullied or abused by a coterie of men and women who have never put Zimbabwe first."

I hope it's an accident, not least because this power-sharing agreement desperately needs to work -- not miracles, but well enough to bring the country into a fresh set of elections, of which there is talk for next year.  In the meantime, speedy recovery, Minister Biti.

Almost exactly a year ago, Zimbabwe watchers will remember the ominous car crash (pictured above) that killed the wife of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and left the prime minister himself injured and shaken. The incident was written off as an accident, but many I’ve spoken with since in Zimbabwe don’t buy that story. Could it really be a coincidence — just months after Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change joined a power-sharing government with the arch-rival government of President Robert Mugabe? It seemed eerie, particularly in light of similar assasination rumors in the past.

So the cynic in me can’t help but wonder if the car accident today involving MDC official and Finance Minister Tendai Biti was also an "accident." It’s definitely possible that it was; unregulated roads, overstuffed lories, and plain and simple bad driving have led to many a preventable casualty in places such as Zimbabwe before. But Biti has also been a target before. Following the contested 2008 elections in the country, Biti was arrested — certainly not for the first time.  He has been outspoken in his criticism of Mugabe’s government, most recently in a release that blamed the president’s ruling ZANU-PF party for sabotaging the power-sharing agreement. "Our message to Zanu PF is that we will not be baited by these nocturnal acts of self-destruction. However, we will also not allow ourselves or the people of Zimbabwe to be bullied or abused by a coterie of men and women who have never put Zimbabwe first."

I hope it’s an accident, not least because this power-sharing agreement desperately needs to work — not miracles, but well enough to bring the country into a fresh set of elections, of which there is talk for next year.  In the meantime, speedy recovery, Minister Biti.

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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