News / Africa

Zimbabwe's Roy Bennett Hit With New Charges

President Mugabe says he will not swear Bennett into office until courts clear him of all outstanding charges

Peta Thornycroft

Roy Bennett, a senior member of the Movement for Democratic Change, was charged with breaking Zimbabwe's maize law. The deputy agriculture minister designate in the shaky 13-month-old inclusive government is already on trial on treason charges. President Robert Mugabe has said he will not swear Mr. Bennett into office until the courts clear him of all outstanding charges.

Mr. Bennett was slapped with new charges Wednesday in which the attorney-general accused him of abusing state corn laws nine years ago, shortly before he was kicked off his coffee farm in Eastern Zimbabwe.

Since entering politics 10 years ago Bennett has been repeatedly arrested, beaten in detention, and violently evicted from both the coffee farm he owned in eastern Zimbabwe and another piece of land he subsequently rented.

He had to flee from Zimbabwe when some of his associates were arrested and accused of treason.

He returned to Zimbabwe last year as the inclusive government was being formed. MDC Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai appointed him deputy agriculture minister.

Before he was sworn in Bennett was charged with treason.

His treason trial continues and the state has closed its case against him. When he arrived at the Harare High Court Wednesday, further charges were handed to him accusing of being in possession of 92 tons of maize that he did not declare to authorities in 2001. Bennett said the maize was meant to feed workers at his farm.

He said the corn was confiscated by the army and the case against him was abandoned.

There was no reply from state law offices Thursday.

Bennett said the only way ZANU-PF could stop him working towards democracy was to kill him. Nothing else, he said, would work.

"They cannot buy me, and they cannot, cannot intimidate me," said Bennett.

Bennett's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa says the state's case against Bennett for treason has collapsed. She said further charges against were "harassment" and to keep him on trial.

Bennett claims that President Robert Mugabe will not swear him into office because he would have access to damaging information about ZANU-PF, including evidence that top ZANU-PF officials helped themselves to state farm equipment prior to formation of the inclusive government.

Most senior ZANU-PF officials, including Mr. Mugabe, occupy formerly white-owned farms. Mr. Mugabe's confiscation of farms was managed by agriculture minister, Joe Made.

"The ministry of agriculture, mechanization and irrigation has been an avenue for total exploitation by the president, Robert Mugabe through his personal farm manager Joseph Made in exporting state resources for (their own) personal gain," said Bennett.

Bennett said there was nothing ZANU-PF could do to force the MDC to pull out of the inclusive government.

"We are there to fight this thing to the end, and we will fight them step by step, blow by blow, and see it thorough," Bennett added. "We have to make this succeed in the interests of the people of Zimbabwe and in the interests of the nation of Zimbabwe."

Negotiators from Zimbabwe's three political parties have been in talks for days, but failed to meet the March 31 deadline set by South African president Jacob Zuma, who is the Southern African Development Community's mediator on Zimbabwe.

Mr. Zuma told negotiators to produce a timetable for resolution of outstanding issues of the political agreement which lead to formation of the inclusive government.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs