Prime minister's wife mourned in Zimbabwe after car accident
Mugabe among thousands to offer condolences
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Thousands mourned the Zimbabwean prime minister's wife, with some wearing T-shirts declaring her "our rock, our mother," while President Robert Mugabe joined the outpouring of sympathy yesterday for a man with whom he agreed only recently to share power.
Pallbearers carried Susan Tsvangirai's bronze coffin into the Harare fair grounds across a red carpet strewn with rose petals. She died in a car crash Friday that injured her husband of more than three decades.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who turned 57 yesterday, addressed the memorial service only briefly, saying "Let's celebrate her existence as God's gift to me and to you."
Choirs sang hymns to the crowd of about 15,000, some in T-shirts bearing Susan Tsvangirai's photo, others bearing his Movement for Democratic Change party's logo. Mourners carried handwritten signs praising Susan Tsvangirai or saying simply: "We miss you, mother."
Tendai Biti, number two in the Movement for Democratic Change and finance minister in the unity government formed last month, delivered the main eulogy. At one point Biti turned to Tsvangirai and said: "You have no time to cry.
"All these people here are looking for your leadership. We will be there with you when needed," Biti said.
Words of condolence earlier from Mugabe, who did not attend the fair grounds service, "changed my understanding of him," said Edwin Tsvangirai, 29, oldest of six Tsvangirai children.
After the accident Friday, Mugabe and his wife went to the hospital to see Tsvangirai. Yesterday, Mugabe addressed about 1,000 government and political leaders and diplomats in the Harare Methodist church as Tsvangirai and his children looked on.
"We are sincerely saddened by the death of Susan and we hope that Morgan will remain strong," Mugabe said, adding that the new coalition government had just begun efforts to bring peace and stability to Zimbabwe.
Mugabe agreed to share power with Tsvangirai after a year of political violence and deadlock following presidential elections in which Tsvangirai won the most votes.
Zimbabwe's long history of political violence blamed on Mugabe's forces fueled speculation that Friday's crash was not an accident. Tsvangirai tried to quell the rumors Monday, telling mourners there was "no foul play" in the crash.