Zimbabwe police say they have dropped treason charges against Roy Bennet of the Movement forDemocratic Chang (MDC), but still plan to bring him to court Monday to face other charges. Lawyers for Bennett, a former MDC treasurer and ally of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, say he will be charged with attempting to commit acts of terrorism, insurgency and banditry.
Bennet was arrested Friday, shortly before he was to be sworn in as deputy minister of agriculture in the new Zimbabwe unity government.
Nelson Chamisa is former MDC spokesman and now minister for communication in the new inclusive government. Speaking as a spokesman for the MDC, he told VOA Bennet has committed no crime and must be released.
"I'm not yet quite served with the actual and true character of the charges, but what I can say is that we are looking forward to the release of our treasurer. We are aware that he has no case to answer. He has not committed any crime, and he is innocent. In fact this is politically motivated and therefore we need a political solution. We have asked our inclusive government to come into play and make sure that Mr. Bennet is released," he said.
Chamisa blamed the Bennet charges on those he said are doing everything to jeopardize the new unity government.
"What you must understand is that we have certain elements who are not happy with the idea of an inclusive government for various reasons, and these forces are obviously the ones that are responsible for the mischief we are seeing because they would want to destabilize, they would want to jeopardize the inclusive government," Chamisa said.
He said the charges are politically motivated and the MDC was dealing with them politically.
"We are dealing with this matter politically, and in as much as the legal process may actually be followed, it would be just the question of going through the motion. But the answer is a political solution because these charges are politically motivated with political implications. And that is why I said we are dealing with the matter," Chamisa said.
Chamisa said the MDC was not consulted about possible charges against Mr. Bennet. He suggested that certain elements of the previous government might be trying to take advantage of the transitional nature of the unity government.
"I must say that this said inclusive government is beginning to take shape and form; it is beginning to locate its own position, and so not enough is being done in terms of gaining momentum, credibility, and strength of its own. So there are certain elements that are trying to utilize this transitional period to do all sorts mischievous acts. But I must say that it is a temporary phase. It is just what I will call some minor turbulence," he said.
Chamisa described as strange the feelings of the MDC working with Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF in a unity government arrangement having fought for so long against the Mugabe administration for democratic reforms.
"It feels strange, challenging, and of course the anxiety that you can't really have that absolute trust or confidence because of years to years tension and condescension. But I must say that at the end of the day it is Zimbabwe that will have to bring us together. We have to serve the suffering people, the dying people, the humanitarian challenges that are gripping this country, the economic hemorrhage, and more importantly we need to democratize our country," Chamisa said.