Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s BMW X5, impounded by the police in Lupane in the run-up to the 2008 harmonised elections, was on Tuesday almost gutted by fire started by police at the station.
A NewsDay crew on a tour of Lupane district that day was alerted by concerned locals of the mishap that nearly befell the premier’s car.
Upon arrival at the police station the news crew saw a swathe of scorched earth with the black soot of burnt grass as close as a metre and a half from Tsvangirai’s impounded vehicle.
Police at the station declined to say anything on record, but one of them later confirmed in confidence that there had been a near-disaster at the station.
Information supplied to the reporters indicated that police at the station started a fire on which they were burning undisclosed items.
“The police were burning some items at the station. The area where they were burning these substances has tall, dry grass and the fire quickly spread around the parking area of the station.
“Before anyone could do anything about it, the fire had spread to where the Prime Minister’s car has been parked for almost three years. The blaze engulfed a grounded Puma vehicle before encroaching on the BMW,” said the source.
The Premier’s vehicle was saved from the fire by police who called for help upon realising the fire was spreading fast beyond their control.
“Even off-duty police and their families at home had to be called to assist in fighting the fire.
It was eventually put out, barely a metre from the vehicle,” a police source said.
The vehicle was donated to Tsvangirai for use during his whirlwind tour of the country to drum up support ahead of the 2008 presidential poll.
Police impounded the vehicle after claiming it was being driven by an unauthorised driver in terms of the Temporary Import Permit regulations.
The regulations forbid anyone from driving a foreign-registered vehicle if they are not duly registered as the user at the port of entry.
The posh car, worth thousands of dollars, has been left in the open, exposed to the vagaries of the weather.
Efforts by Tsvangirai’s office to have the vehicle returned have so far been futile.
Even armed with a clearance letter from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority after paying a $2 000 fine, Tsvangirai’s officials last month failed to have the vehicle released.