Friday, March 06, 2009

'Car accidents' and other convenient fictions

It is, of course, entirely possible that the death of Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife in a car accident south of Harare was nothing more than a tragic accident.  God knows the roads in Zimbabwe are dangerous enough.  But the news instantly rang a couple of bells with me.  Car crashes in Africa aren’t always what they seem.  General Gunda was killed when a goods train hit his car a couple of years ago.  That raised more than a few eyebrows – the regularity of goods trains in Zimbabwe is best measured by a calendar rather than a timetable.

Back in 1991, Levy Mwanawasa, then Vice President of Zambia was involved in a car accident – reportedly involving an army Land Rover.  It has never been established just how accidental that accident was.

And, perhaps most pertinently of all, Josiah Tongogara, the head of ZANLA and a more significant figure in the bush war in Zimbabwe even than Mugabe, was ‘killed in a car crash’ in Mozambique.  Ian Smith always used to say that, for a car crash, it was amazing how many bullet holes were in him.

This is still a developing story, but it strikes me that it’s hard to be too cynical about Zimbabwe at the moment.  However hard you try, it always manages to be worse than you think.

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