President Emmerson Mnangagwa at his inauguration in Harare, Zimbabwe. Picture: Ben Curtis/AP
Harare - President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the deaths of 21 health workers in a traffic accident on Monday was a 'national disaster.’

The victims were members of the Ministry of Health and Child Care malaria control programme and were on duty in north western Zimbabwe when the truck in which they were travelling crashed just 300 m from their destination, according to Zimbabwe’s state newspaper, The Herald. 

Police spokesman Paul Nyathi said the accident happened when 69 passengers were travelling in a truck which was apparently speeding when it failed to negotiate a curve in the road and crashed. Some of those who were severely injured were trapped underneath the smashed vehicle for up to seven hours. 

Fifteen people died instantly and a further six died later. 

A witness, Busani Mpunzi, who lives near the scene of the accident, said he saw the truck approaching the curve at high speed: “The driver was seriously speeding and I feared for the passengers’ lives. As I watched, I saw the truck fly into the air, throwing the passengers out like litter. It occurred like I have only seen on television and I still cannot believe that I watched that happen right in front of my eyes."

As this accident has been declared a national disaster, the state will move to help with costs of treatment and burials. The local Zanu PF MP for this district was Jonathan Moyo, who was part of the pro Grace Mugabe faction within Zanu PF. He has fled Zimbabwe and maybe in Nairobi as his wife is Kenyan. Moyo was expelled from the ruling Zanu PF following the Coup d’etat three weeks ago. 

Many of those among the dead and injured were young and professionally trained medics fighting malaria among rural people in western Zimbabwe. 

Independent Foreign Service