Mugabe officials 'steal' Tsvangirai's armoured BMW

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The Independent Online

Zimbabwe's ruling party has been accused of car theft after an armoured BMW, confiscated by police last week from the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was spotted being driven by its officials.

A spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change, Nqobizitha Mlilo, said the BMW X5 was impounded by police on 6 June when Mr Tsvangirai was detained for several hours at Esigodini police station in south-western Zimbabwe. "We do not know who is inside the vehicle but a group of Zanu-PF officials have been using it to drive between election points in the Beitbridge and Lupane areas," he said yesterday.

The BMW, which has South African number plates, had been impounded for alleged registration irregularities. The vehicle, which is armoured, was delivered to Mr Tsvangirai only last week after reports of an assassination plot against him.

The disputed election run-off between Mr Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe has been set for 27 June. But the MDC is facing increasing hurdles in its campaign, including election violence, bans on rallies and snap arrests of its leaders.

Mr Mlilo said the ruling Zanu-PF party was "a law unto itself. They're insane."

The bizarre car development came on top of the curious case of the disappearing letter. The office of South Africa's President and regional mediator, Thabo Mbeki, has denied the existence of a message of complaint sent to him on 13 May by Mr Tsvangirai.

The letter, which was leaked to the South African media 10 days ago, called on Mr Mbeki to step aside as mediator, claiming he has failed to be impartial.

But Frank Chikane, director-general of Mr Mbeki's office, told a press conference that the letter did not exist. The MDC says it has "re-delivered" it.

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