MDC –T treasurer-general Roy Bennett said the reason why he was arrested and taken to prison at a time his other colleagues were being sworn in was because President Robert Mugabe could not stand having him in the government.
Bennett said this while delivering a speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Association in South Africa on Friday where he shared with them his experiences in the last 18 months when he was in and out of the courts.
He said he was not bothered by the fact that President Mugabe did not want to shake his hand.
At the birth of the inclusive government Bennett was supposed to be sworn in as the Deputy Minister of Agriculture but failed as he was arrested on his arrival in Harare in February 2009.
President Mugabe said he would not swear him in until his court case was over.
The issue of Bennett’s arrest and subsequent trial has been a contentious matter in the government of national unity. The MDC-T insisted the allegations against him were a farce and were only designed to keep Bennett at bay.
Bennett is a victim of Zimbabwe’s land reform programme. His once-thriving Charleswood Estates in Chimanimani was forcibly taken over by the government several years ago.
Fears in President Mugabe’s Zanu PF were that Bennett could reverse “land gains” if he was allowed to become deputy Agriculture minister.
Bennett described Zanu PF as a cruel organisation that has trampled upon people’s rights with impunity and has allegedly killed thousands of innocent people.“Zimbabweans themselves need little reminding of the character of Zanu’s criminal mindset,” Bennett charged.
“We have seen Zanu PF slay our people, felt its cruel rod on our backs, its boots on our necks. We see the guilty mock us every day. It is a system and a perverse ideology — but it is much more than that. It is deeply personal.”
Bennett left the country after being acquitted in a case where he faced several charges ranging from possessing weaponry for insurgency, banditry, sabotage and terrorism, to incitement to commit insurgency, banditry or terrorism.
He was accused of having plotted, together with Peter Michael Hitschmann, to depose a lawful government through the use of violence, insurgence, banditry, sabotage and terrorism.
In May this year Bennett was found not guilty as the judge who was presiding over the case Justice Chinembiri Bhunu said the state had failed to prove its case.
The state has however appealed against Justice Bhunu’s ruling. Bennett said Zanu PF remained determined to deny people the most basic human right — the right to live peacefully and productively by harassing and intimidating people.
“Increasing harassment of me was a clear precursor to further imprisonment and fabrication. I was left with little choice but to take my leave for a second time.”