Roy Bennett Sent Back To Jail
Mutare Prison in March, where Roy Bennett's relatives waited for him to be released after he had been abducted from Charles Prince Airport on the outskirts of Harare as his fellow Ministers were being sworn-in by Mugabe. He is back there now and will have to apply for bail on Monday. A decision will most likely only be delivered on Tuesday, since almost certainly, Harare will have to be consulted on his bail application, since this is a political trial
Harare, Zimbabwe, 14 October 2009In a purely vindictive move, a Magistrate in the Eastern Highlands town of Mutare in Zimbabwe has revoked the bail of Roy Bennett and sent him back to jail.
Bennett is Tsvangirai's nominee for Deputy Minister of Agriculture in the Inclusive Government. Robert "The Solution" Mugabe has been refusing to swear him, saying he needs to clear his name in the courts first. The MDC Treasurer-General stands accused to stockpiling weapons of war and plotting to topple Mugabe with them.
On Monday, the defence had applied to have Bennett removed from remand because the state was taking its time to charge him. His lawyers contended that this was because the State had no case against him.
However, Prosecutor Michael Mugabe on Monday then used the hearing to immediately indict Bennett, saying his case was now complete and the application to have Bennett removed from remand was no longer necessary. He specifically called for Bennett to be put back behind bars as a matter of course, since he now stood indicted.
The Magistrate in Mutare then ruled today that Bennett indeed now stands indicted and must face trial. He was immediately taken into custody.
Bennett is especially hated in ZANU PF because they see him as the person who made it possible for the MDC to be where it is today, seeking funds for the opposition while calling for sanctions against the government of Robert Mugabe. That he has also previously attacked one of Mugabe's favourite ministers, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, only adds to the hatred.
Although other civil servants had cases pending in the courts, Mugabe allowed them to be appointed, yet he refuses to do the same with Bennett, whom he has privately vowed "will not be acquitted" of the charges he faces.
What happens now?
Bennett can only apply for bail at the High Court, which will sit in Mutare on Tuesday next week. Until then, he is likely to remain in custody. The Magistrates' Court in Mutare has no jurisdiction to hear his bail application because of the class of his alleged offence.
Morgan Tsvangirai, despite being Prime Minister, can do nothing about any of this, even though Bennett is one of his closest advisers.
In fact, the Prime Minister has also now adopted Mugabe's attitude, which is that Bennett must stand trial and clear his name in order for him to be sworn into office. When these arrests of MDC supporters first started, soon after Tsvangirai became Prime Minister, he told Basildon Peta of Independent Newspapers in South Africa that these were not persecutions.
"They have to go through the process," Tsvangirai said back then.
Only three weeks ago, when his party Executive protested in the strongest terms did Tsvangirai start making noises about Bennett. His previous obsession has been with the Reserve Bank Governor and Attorney General.As is usual, the MDC issued a statement saying the jailing of Bennett puts the Inclusive Government "under strain". They have toned down. Previously, they were quick to say "threatens the GNU", but they know that Mugabe does not take their threats to walk out seriously any more.
Unfortunately, Tsvangirai will continue to be powerless, because Mugabe has said that he "will not tolerate any nonsense from our new partners in government."