Zimbabwe Courts Postpone Bennett Case, Mugabe Gets What He Wants

Bennett on his release from Mutare Prison on Friday, 16 October 2009


Harare, Zimbabwe, 18 October 2009

In a move that has been misinterpreted by international observers as "hope for the Coalition Government", the High Court in Harare postponed the trial of Roy Bennett on weapons and treason charges, which was due to start tomorrow.

To understand how this plays into Mugabe's hands, you need to recall that the Defence team had forced the State to show its deck by going to the Mutare Magistrates' Court to apply for Bennett to be taken off remand because the State was taking its time bringing him to trial.

They did not have a case.

They had not given Bennett's lawyers the papers containing the outline of their case against Bennett. They had not given any indication that the trial was about to start any time soon

This suited Mugabe, who did not want to swear him in and was using the fact that he had not yet stood trial and been acquitted to hold on to this position.

The clear intention for Mugabe was to use these charges to keep Bennett out of government until the end of the Coalition with Tsvangirai.

So, the postponement of the trial at the request of Bennett's lawyers gives Mugabe even more time in which to do more mischief and harm.

The postponement, therefore, is not, as international "analysts" are putting it, to allow Mugabe and Tsvangirai to work out a deal over the Deputy Minister of Agriculture-designate. No. It only allows Mugabe to continue to insist that the trial is now postponed, not by him, but by Bennett's lawyers. He will still maintain that he will not swear him in until the trial is finished and he is acquitted. Even as he insists to Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara that Bennett "will not be acquitted."

It is unclear right now when the Defence will finish its preparations. After that, the trial starts in earnest. And treason trials usually drag on and on. Which would also play into Mugabe's hands, because both he and Tsvangirai agree that new elections could be held as early as 2011 and treason trials can last for a year or more.

Like I said yesterday, Mugabe is not at all feeling any pressure. There are no benefits he is getting from his engagement with Tsvangirai - the West continues with its sanctions against him, will not put money into government coffers for budget support or developmental purposes.

Which means there is nothing he is getting now that he will not miss if Tsvangirai walks out.

So we are still where we have always been and Tsvangirai will be back in government and cabinet within a couple of weeks, with nothing addressed by Mugabe.

I think you should also note that the MDC appears to be fighting Mugabe on matters that have no bearing on the people's lives. They are fighting him on fundamental issues to do with policies that will change the economic fortunes of Zimbabweans.

On that front and on almost every other issue, they are pursuing ZANU PF policies. Where they regain their spine and take Mugabe on, it has only to do with getting jobs for their people, making sure they pack even more snouts at the feeding trough - governors, ambassadors, Bennett's job, Commissions on which they keep score as to how many of "their" people are put in.....

They really have no idea how the ground is shifting beneath their feet.

Their continued contempt for their opponents, especially other opposition groups that are fighting quietly against the injustice of this coalition, means that they continuing with their of being the "dominant party" in Zimbabwe.

There is going to be a rude awakening.

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