Tsvangirai hurt, wife killed in car crash

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Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wife was killed and he was hurt in a car accident today, a source in his party said.

Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Tsvangirai was taken to hospital but was not in a critical condition. Another MDC source said Tsvangirai's wife, Susan, was killed.

President Robert Mugabe visited his old rival in hospital.

They formed a power-sharing government in February after months of negotiations to try to end a political and economic crisis that has brought Zimbabwe to ruin.

A senior government official told reporters Tsvangirai was "fine" after the accident.

There was no immediate sign of foul play in the crash, some 50 km (30 miles) south of Harare as Tsvangirai headed to his rural home in Buhera. A truck coming from the opposite direction veered off the road and headed into Tsvangirai's vehicle, his spokesman said.

Tsvangirai, who turns 57 on Tuesday, has been married to Susan for 31 years. They have six children.

Although Susan was not actively involved in Tsvangirai's party, she has supported him and appeared at campaign rallies with her husband over the last 10 years.

The new government faces an array of problems: food and fuel shortages, the world's most serious hyperinflation and a cholera outbreak in which nearly 88,000 people have been infected, with nearly 4,000 killed, according to the World Health Organisation.

Zimbabweans and Western donors are hoping the new administration can deliver political stability after a power-sharing deal was reached in September.

The tragedy comes at a difficult time for Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai, a union leader who was a thorn in Mugabe's side as head of the main opposition MDC), is under pressure to rescue the ruined economy and win support from the international community.

Analysts say he may also face new political challenges from Mugabe, pushing to give his ZANU-PF party an upper hand over the MDC in the new administration.

Tensions have been rising in the new government over the arrest of MDC official Roy Bennett.

Zimbabwean police have arrested a magistrate who tried to release Bennett while his case was still before the country's highest court, a police spokesman said on Friday.

Zimbabwe's Supreme Court on Thursday granted prosecutors the right to appeal against a ruling by a High Court judge to grant bail to Bennett, a former white farmer.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are expected in Zimbabwe next week to review the country's economic situation and discuss policies to address the humanitarian crisis.

South Africa is considering opening a credit line to help neighbour Zimbabwe rebuild its shattered economy after years of political and economic crisis, the Financial Mail reported on Friday.