Roy Bennett Stays In Jail

The latest news on Roy Bennett:

Why is it that no one can see the game that Mugabe is playing against the democracy project in Zimbabwe?

Roy Bennett appeared in court today in Mutare, wearing his white t-shirt and classic farmers' long shorts. He appeared resigned to whatever was about to happen. 

What did happen was that the following charges were laid against him:

  • Attempting to commit terrorism, banditry and sabotage
  • Conspiring to acquire arms in order to disrupt essential services
  • Illegal possession of arms and weapons
  • attempting to leave the country illegally
The defence immediately asked for the charges to be thrown out and a decision will be made tomorrow (Wednesday 18 February 2009). 

Crucially, the charge of attempting to leave the country illegally is being brought up simply so that they make Bennett ineligible for bail. The prosecution will argue that he is a man of some means who can leave the country immediately he is released. You will find the story from AFP here

The world, meantime, is falling for this little charade from the Zimbabwe dictator. Now, it is being reported all over the world that Mugabe is being "sidelined" by his generals, who are against the agreement.

Mugabe knows that the MDC leadership lacks the confidence to deal with the military big guns. They do not feel that they can get the deal Mugabe is offering them now if it were the military in charge of things. Hook line and sinker, they have bought the street gossip that it is the military that is running Zimbabwe and preventing the democracy project from succeeding.

In actual fact, the armed forces are being used by Mugabe for his own power game. Their interests were tied to Mugabe's a long time ago, when the current Prime Minister publicly stated that if he took over he would have them arrested and charged with crimes against humanity.

Now, Mugabe's interest is their interest. But they do not hold sway here. It is Mugabe in supreme control and command.

So, the sanitisation of Mugabe's assault on democracy in Zimbabwe is now necessary "in order to strengthen his hand" against the Chiwengwas and the like. Yet these same generals are actually busy laughing their heads off right now, telling their friends this is as far as Tsvangirai will ever go in his quest for the presidency. This past weekend, one likened the Prime Minister to a rabbit in the glare of headlights.

Yes, they still regard him with contempt, but they have bought into Mugabe's strategy (it is getting boring to have to keep refering you back to articles I wrote here beginning November last year predicting exactly what we see happening now and laying out Mugabe's strategy).

The man in the street likes simple and straighforward things, complicated power struggles and the nuances of diplomatic and political strategy give him headaches. Hence, although the strategy is unfolding exactly as leaked last year, most people find comfort in looking the other way, in looking for an explanation that does not scare them so much.

But Mugabe certainly now has Tsvangirai and Biti where he wants them. They say they are seeking to establish a common front with Mugabe against these "evil generals" who are "bent on destroying the inclusive government." Mugabe will ensure that Bennett's imprisonment sends the coarsest message to an already petrified MDC leadership: either you accept me and work with me or you will have to deal with the generals who will take over power and simply install a civilian as a figurehead.

Mugabe, of course, is nobody's figurehead, despite what the western press now want us to believe. He is in charge. He is directing events. All the time, he is double-daring the MDC, which right now has neither the confidence nor the wits to counter this approach.

The problems is partly of their ow creation. Even back in 2004, when some of us were loudly telling the world that the problem with Zimbabwe was an institutional one, most Zimbabweans and foreigners were dismissive, with Zimbabweans themselves saying, "The moment Mugabe goes, things will automatically come right."

The strategies employed were employedon this basis of this flawed reading of Zimbabwe's situation. Now it is too late to undo them. 

One more thing: from today onwards watch carefully, very carefully, the relationship between Mugabe's ZANU PF and Angola, which is itself controlled in reality by generals.

Electricity went some time ago here, so this is a race against my laptop battery. Excuse any typos and the like in this story, it had to be typed in hurriedly.

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  1. I might be oblivious to any political machinations at play, if any. But I would like to focus on the legal aspects of the matter involving Roy Bennet. Like I have said before regarding his arrest and further detention, some had seen an anomaly and the process portrayed as having been executed outside the precincts of the law. This is sometimes due to the information given to the media or clients by lawyers, which is sometimes incomplete, confusing or misleading.
    When Bennet appeared in court, his defence team never raised the issue of improper or unlawful arrest or quiried the way the arrest was effected, (thats about the Warrant of Arrest we discussed earlier on), neither did they question the legality of his further detention to a period exceeding 48hrs. Those are the very first issues they were supposed to bring to the attention of the court and have it on record, before proceeding with any arguments.But they couldn't raise those issues without making themselves fools before the magistrate and the law officers, since all the processes regarding that were above board, although the public was made to believe otherwise.
    All the defence had to do was to ask the magistrate Mr Billard Musakwa who issued the warrant for further detention to recuse himself from the case, which he did, and I think they were right(the defence) in so doing.
    The problem we have is that when a society become too politicised, they tend to see politics in every aspect of their life.All problems coming their way become the work of political opponents bent on achieving a political agenda, even those self inflicted.
    Now listen to Prime Minister Tsvangirai what he had to say after meeting security and justice ministers, he said "the judiciary should be allowed to do their work without interference". I am sure that is exactly what he was told by the President when he met him over the issues of the detainees including Mukoko and Bennet.
    On the other side if one looks at Tendai Biti's case and the circumstances leading to its dismissal, the Prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare had to receive a phone call from Biti's lawyer in which he told Biti's lawyer that he is up to fixing Biti, and all that recorded by Biti's lawyer and to be used in the next court appearance. Something fishy here. That is most likely to have been an arrangement by both the prosecution and the defence calculated at putting an end to Biti's case for him to join government untainted. Tommorrow no one can claim interference from Politicians, it will be said the courts made the decision basing on facts before them. That could have been deliberate bungling and the same can happen to Roy Bennet's case if he is desperately needed in the gvt and his defence is not very strong to have him acquited by the courts, we can see deliberate bungling. After all it is the same Prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare who is handling Bennet's case.
    On a different note I totally agree with Mr Magora that the westerners approach and strategy on Zim is based on a flawed assessment and reading of the real situation on the ground and the real powers at play. They go on to include a very juniour staffer at ZBC like Musorowegomo Mukosi and people like Munyaradzi, Caesar Zvayi etc on their sanctions list thinking it will work. The opposite is true, they are making heroes out of zeros. That will only produce more Musorowegomo Mukosi's, they see inclusion on that list as some badge of honour, instead of achieving their intended result, they achieve the opposite. They think those guys have offshore accounts in western capitals and properties and that they die to live or visit their capitals. A lot do not have that dream at all, actually they become elevated within the systems they operate in.

  2. @Thokozile,

    Well, the thing is that a new arrest warrant had been issued against Bennett two days before his arrest.

    So the issue that you brought up, about there being a warrant from "long back" did not arise. This was a new warrant issued on the Wednesday before the Friday he was arrested.

    Just as legalities can be used to free the Bitis so they can be used to jail the Bennetts, so the issue of the further detention of a ministerial nominee should raise questions.

    Why keep him in jail longer when he is about to join government and is unlikely to flee without discrediting himself?

    On the Mukosi's I agree. Just as Ceaser Zvayi was lavished with a low-density home, brand new car and fat pay after his deportation from Botswana, so these minnows who have put on the new sanctions list will simply be rewarded with money and houses and cars by Mugabe. They will live better here than they could ever have done if they had emigrated.


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