Harare: President Robert Mugabe had a horrific return from Singapore yesterday as his wife, Grace, was first involved in an accident just outside the Harare International Airport, while a few minutes later, one of his outriders got involved in a horrendous accident.

The first accident, according to Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, occurred at the airport upon his return from Singapore where he had gone for “a routine medical check-up”. It happened as the first couple, which had just alighted from their plane, was about to leave the airport for their residence.

According to Charamba, Mugabe’s driver started the vehicle before the First Lady had boarded, resulting in the accident.

“Driver asimudza mota gumbo rafirst lady riri paground (the driver got the vehicle into motion when the first lady’s other leg was still outside the vehicle). It could have been bad, thank God, there was no major injury.

“The president was already in the car, that’s why there was misjudgment,” he said, as he downplayed it to a mere “incident”.

He said she got the left leg into the car first, and then the right leg was injured when the car was started.

“First lady, Dr Grace Mugabe, suffered some soft tissue bruising on the right ankle as a result of a freak car incident at the Harare International Airport early this morning.

“The incident happened as the first couple, which had just alighted from an overseas trip was about to leave the Harare International Airport for the residence,” said Charamba.

“The first lady was taken to local facilities where doctors examined and treated the bruise. The examining doctors confirmed that she suffered no major injury. At the time of her discharge, which was about an hour later, she complained of pain from the hurt ankle. His excellency, the president, accompanied by Mr and Mrs Chikore, was with the first lady throughout the examination, treatment and subsequent discharge. The first lady is recovering at home,” said Charamba

The Chikores who were with the first couple are Bona, Mugabe’s daughter, and Simba, her husband.

Simba is employed as the chief operating officer at Air Zimbabwe.

Asked if disciplinary action would be taken against the seemingly negligent driver amid unconfirmed reports he had been summarily dismissed, Charamba said: “Haven’t you been in an accident on the road? Those things do happen, that’s not our preoccupation.”

 Charamba said Mugabe was okay.

He said the Zanu PF leader’s Manicaland rally, scheduled for today, was proceeding as planned.

“If she is well, she will come; I doubt she will come. The engagement is on,” he said, adding: “What happened in Masvingo?”

Grace missed Zanu PF’s rally in Masvingo to attend to an emergency relating to her sons’ accommodation in neighbouring South Africa.

This was revealed by Mugabe himself during the youth interface really in the city.

“ . . . Saka vati (Grace) tine hurombo ndanga ndichidisa kuti ndive nemi pamusangano uno asi netsaona dzakaita ikoko handinga kurumidze kuuya ndisati ndawana patsvene panogara vana, vakachengetedzeka vese, nemukuru, vari kuzvikoro (I wanted to be there with you at this meeting but the emergency in South Africa could not allow me to return on time since I have to make sure my children have secure accommodation),” Mugabe said in explaining his wife’s absence.

Mugabe’s sons — Bellarmine Chatunga and Robert Junior — are now studying in South Africa after the relocation from United Arab Emirates of his elder son who was stationed in Dubai until last year.

It was a bad day for Mugabe who had otherwise returned quietly from Singapore without the crowds that are usually bussed to the airport in order to be addressed by the ageing Zanu PF leader whenever he arrives from his foreign trips.

Immediately after the accident at the Harare International Airport, the scene where Mugabe once fell on the red carpet, one of the presidential motorcade outriders was also involved in a serious accident, witnesses said.

Police at Hatfield Police Station, who attended to the accident that occurred near the Commando Barracks, a few kilometres from the Harare International Airport, confirmed the incident but refused to give details, referring questions to Harare Police Traffic spokesperson, Tigere Chigome.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Chigome could only say: “Nhasi iSaturday handisi kutaura zvebasa (I will not speak about work-related issues because today it’s a Saturday)”.

Mugabe usually travels with an escort of around 15 vehicles, including the presidential limousine, a Mercedes Benz, motorcycles and army vehicles.

However, accidents involving the long motorcade have been on the rise, in some cases leading to fatalities, in all the cases authorities have blamed negligent members of the public and motorists. daily news