Tsvangirai escaped a potentially deadly accident when his recently delivered Toyota Land Cruiser suspiciously burst a rear tyre but luckily for the Zimbabwe Prime Minister, the bullet proof car did not overturn as he was travelling at about 40 kilometres per our on a dust road 80 kilometres out of Gwanda.
A confidential security document from Tsvangirai’s office sourced by Radio VOP in Harare Wednesday reveals that the Land Cruiser had been tampered with before being delivered to the Tsvangirai by the Central Mechanical and Equipment Department (CMED). It was the first time Tsvangirai was using the vehicle.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson James Maridadi confirmed that an investigation into the incident was underway and a preliminary report from car experts had already completed.
The security document which also contains a preliminary report from Zimoco, which investigated the bursting of the tyre reveals that the car had been manipulated with that if it had overturned, all the doors were going to open throwing the occupants out.
According to the vehicle manual, the tyre is supposed to move for at least 100 kilometres after a puncture but Tsvangirai’s vehicle was immediately grounded as the wheel was completely damaged which rasied suspicions that a it could have been fixed with a fake one. This led to the investigation which unearthed more defects on the car.
“On 13 February 2010, we were cruising in the dust road about 80kms out of Gwanda when the motorcade came to a sudden halt. The PM’s new Land Cruiser had its rear right side tyre punctured. We quickly moved the PM to one of the Prado and carried on our journey leaving the driver to change the tyre.
“Little did we know that the spare wheel was damaged too, having been used without pressure and was also packed flat. The driver and one of the security guys only managed to bring the vehicle to Harare on Monday – two days after the puncture.
“On arrival, the vehicle was taken to Zimoco, who are the local dealers who handled the vehicle when it was new. It was inspected by a Mr Karl V Lehnardt a German expert,” reads part of the report.
According to the document, the German expert confirmed that:
* he had delivered four such vehicles to State House in 2008
*all the vehicles were fitted with run flat tyres
*all vehicles had low mileage when they were delivered
*all accessories were in the vehicles.
But when he inspected the vehicles, Mr Lehnardt observed that, the boot was no longer opening, the spare wheel was badly damaged, the remote control and the central locking system were dysfunctional, all door hinges were loose and the vehicle had been used before it was delivered. It was also observed that the vehicle in question had been tampered with that it was now a danger to drive.
Said Maridadi: “We have discovered serious anomalies on the vehicle. It places the Prime Minister in great danger. We cannot talk about foul play at the moment but it is certainly of concern that a vehicle in such a bad condition can be given to the head of government. Actually it cannot be issued to any human being.
“State security is saying they are carrying out a probe. Our security team has recommended that the vehicle in question will never be used by the Prime Minister while the one he is using has to be checked for any tampering. We don’t know the motive yet but it is really disturbing. If the tyre burst had occurred on a highway, we would have faced a disaster,” said Maridadi.
Tsvangirai was involved in an accident a year ago which claimed the life of his wife Susan, when the Toyota Landcruiser he was travelling in was side swiped by a haulage truck and overturned several times. The Zimbabwe Prime Minister also survived several assassination attempts when he was with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU and when he was still in the opposition.