This was Mutare Prison this afternoon, where friends of Roy Bennett had gathered in anticipation of his release. But the Attorney General was given leave to appeal the High Court decision to give Bennett Bail at the Supreme Court. The Deputy Minister of Agriculture nominee stays in jail indefinitely now
In a stunning show of contempt for the law, two Senior Prison Wardens confiscated Roy Bennett's release papers and ran away with them last night just as Bennett was stepping out of his prison cell into what he though was freedom.
Yup, they swiped those papers and ran! The net result was that there was nothing for Bennett to sign and without the papers in their hands, the prison officials at Mutare Prison could not release the prisoner.
This gave the Attorney General enough time to have his case heard at the Supreme Court and the decision which keeps Bennett in jail was handed down late this afternoon. Supreme Court Judge Paddington Garwe said he was granting the AG's request because there is a reasonable chance of success for the state in its bid to have Bennett denied bail.
It would be funny if were not so tragic.
It means that Bennett, who actually briefly left his cell on his way to freedom last night before the Prison officials did a runner with his release papers, will remain in jail while the appeal process goes ahead.
And this is where the war of attrition now starts. This thing will be dragged out for months. I am taking bets on how many postponements the prosecution will ask for "in order to make further investigations".
UNLESS, OF COURSE, Tsvangirai decides to appease Mugabe and withdraw Bennett's nomination for Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
It is now very clear what the real reason behind the arrest of Bennett is: Mugabe considers it an insult to have to swear the man into the office of Deputy Minister of Agriculture. And I am sure that unless and until Morgan Tsvangirai agrees to withdraw Bennett's nomination for the Agriculture ministry, the MDC Treasurer-General is in for the Long-haul.
Bennett himself lost his only farm in Manicaland Province to Mugabe's Land Reform "programme". Mugabe hates him and what he represents to him. I think we can be certain that, unless the demand is met, Bennett will probably stay in jail right up to the end of this Inclusive Government.
It boggles the mind: it appears Mugabe believes this issue is so big that he is willing to let Zimbabwe burn for on its account. What country on earth is going to give aid to a Zimbabwe in which things like this are happening?
The world said it was waiting to see if Mugabe has turned a new leaf, before they came in with any assistance. Mugabe's response is to spit in their face.
So, yesterday, Barack Obama extended the sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year.
The EU has already added to the sanctions and is looking for even more ways to fix Mugabe.
African countries (the Southern African Development Community (SADC) specifically) have also not coughed up anything, saying instead they will talk to lenders and encourage them to lend money to Zimbabwe.
The African Development Bank responded by saying Zimbabwe owed them money and they would only even think about a further loan after they have been paid what has been due for years. The IMF says the same thing.
Zimbabwe's debt is estimated at around US$5 billion.
So I think it is fair to say that this new government is already dead. On the day that Morgan Tsvangirai called for "the removal of all restrictive measures against Zimbabwe", the Americans responded by extending the same.
This country can not be turned around without outside help, even if that comes only in the form of credit lines. At the rate Mugabe and Tsvangirai are going, it will be a freezing day in hell before a hand of assistance is extended Zimbabwe's way.