Roy Bennett's experience at the hands of Zanu PF loyalists is the simplest and most obvious example supporting claims that this party uses and abuses the law for its own ends.
The latest is that Roy Bennett, who is still facing trumped up charges of treason (which carries the death sentence), is now being charged with breaking Zimbabwe's maize laws, a "crime" dating back nine years ago to shortly before he was kicked off his coffee farm in Eastern Zimbabwe.
David Coltart issued a statement today via his mailing list in which he points out the lawlessness of the charges . He also writes:
. it is hard to conceive how this crime could have only recently been discovered or Senator Bennett's involvement only recently established. If the press reports are accurate he is charged with hoarding maize at his farm some 9 years ago. It is common cause that Senator Bennett was evicted from his farm at least 7 years ago by state agents who must have discovered the hoard then, if there was in fact a hoard. It would be physically impossible for it to be discovered now as the maize would have rotted years ago. In any event if he was "hoarding" there must have been a large quantity of maize which could not have been hidden easily, only to be discovered recently. Likewise it is difficult to conceive how Senator Bennett's alleged involvement in hoarding could have only been established recently. He has owned the farm in question for some 20 years and he is a public figure well known to the police in the area. In other words if the "hoard' was discovered years ago one questions why it is only now that the link has been made to Senator Bennett.
In short it is not open to the police to bring charges now when they should have been brought years ago when the crime was allegedly discovered. The police cannot keep charges locked away in a drawer to be brought out at an "appropriate" moment. If a crime has been committed by a person known to the police then charges should be brought immediately against that person. Accordingly the prosecution of Senator Bennett at this late stage appears to be a clear breach of section 18 of the Constitution. The Attorney General has a duty to explain to the public why it is that this prosecution was not brought earlier. If he cannot do so then the public will assume that there has in fact been a breach of section 18 and a denial of a fundamental right to Senator Bennett. (Read the full statement here).
I can't imagine what it must feel like, for Bennett himself. Or what his family and friends are enduring having to see someone they care about kicked, and then kicked, and then kicked again.
As an outside spectator I have a growing sense of dismay that I - and everyone else reading his case in the news - are being held hostage by this violent political force to witness gratuitous bullying in its worst form.
As well as achieving whatever malicious and vicious pleasure that the bullies seem get out of their personal vendetta against Bennett, their actions make me feel as if the rest of us are being taunted and goaded, forced into a position of 'voyeuristic complicity', in that we are watching someone being tormented but seemingly able to do nothing about it . How can this not damage our souls? How can seeing this continuously not dehumanise us as a society? Those among us who may distance themselves from this and think 'its not my problem' are, as far as I am concerned, already damaged.
Zanu PF uses Bennett to remind us all that we, as individuals, are powerless victims and that they, as some kind of spiteful force, can do exactly what they like and when they like. And in the context of the GPA, the ongoing persecution of Roy Bennett is probably the best two-fingers in your face gesture that Zanu PF can come up with to the two other main political parties, and in doing this too, they try to remind the rest of us that we can vote for who we like, but that they will retain the power and corruption.
I hope that this blatant maliciousness is even beginning to wear down the die-hard Zanu PF supporters. How can anyone with a sane and reasonable mind not be appalled at this treatment of one human being by politicians abusing their power for personal objectives. This type of behaviour provokes nothing other than disgust and total revulsion in me.
In my fury and revulsion, I have to consciously remind myself of what Bennett said when he was locked up in February 2009 - the message he sent to the rest of us:
Whatever these challenges, if we remain unwaveringly dedicated, we will achieve peace, freedom and democracy in our life-time - believe me!
It is that strong belief that Zanu PF are trying to crush out of Roy Bennett and out of the rest of the nation. We mustn't let them win. We must continue to believe in a better future where the law prevails and human rights are respected and upheld.
By Senator David Coltart
2 April 2010
The MDC formation under the leadership of Professor Arthur Mutambara is
deeply concerned by the new prosecution of Senator Roy Bennett of the MDC
(T), commenced with the service of a summons on him on the 30th March 2010,
on allegations that he hoarded maize 9 years ago.
Section 18(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that “If any person is
charged with a criminal offence, then, unless the charge is withdrawn, the
case shall be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time”. The intent
behind this provision is to respect the principle that justice delayed is
justice denied. In other words it is a fundamental breach of a person’s
human rights if prosecutions are not brought expeditiously against a person
accused of crime. If there is a delay a person accused of a crime may not,
for example, be able to call witnesses in his defence. The public interest
also demands that crimes be responded to quickly.
This provision is of course no bar to the police instituting proceedings
against a criminal who committed an offence a long time ago and whose
involvement in a crime is only recently established. Furthermore it is no
bar to a prosecution being brought when a crime is only recently discovered,
even though it may have happened a long time ago – such as the discovery of
However in the instant case it is hard to conceive how this crime could have
only recently been discovered or Senator Bennett’s involvement only recently
established. If the press reports are accurate he is charged with hoarding
maize at his farm some 9 years ago. It is common cause that Senator Bennett
was evicted from his farm at least 7 years ago by state agents who must have
discovered the hoard then, if there was in fact a hoard. It would be
physically impossible for it to be discovered now as the maize would have
rotted years ago. In any event if he was “hoarding” there must have been a
large quantity of maize which could not have been hidden easily, only to be
discovered recently. Likewise it is difficult to conceive how Senator
Bennett’s alleged involvement in hoarding could have only been established
recently. He has owned the farm in question for some 20 years and he is a
public figure well known to the police in the area. In other words if the
“hoard’ was discovered years ago one questions why it is only now that the
link has been made to Senator Bennett.
In short it is not open to the police to bring charges now when they should
have been brought years ago when the crime was allegedly discovered. The
police cannot keep charges locked away in a drawer to be brought out at an
“appropriate” moment. If a crime has been committed by a person known to the
police then charges should be brought immediately against that person.
Accordingly the prosecution of Senator Bennett at this late stage appears to
be a clear breach of section 18 of the Constitution. The Attorney General
has a duty to explain to the public why it is that this prosecution was not
brought earlier. If he cannot do so then the public will assume that there
has in fact been a breach of section 18 and a denial of a fundamental right
to Senator Bennett.
There is, as well, a political dimension to this issue. The Preamble to the
Global Political Agreement signed by the three parties to it in September
2008 dedicates all to “putting an end to the polarisation, divisions,
conflict and intolerance that has characterised Zimbabwean politics”.
Article 11.1 states that “it is the duty of all political parties and
individuals to respect the constitution and to adhere to the principles of
the rule of law”. In the last few years numerous MDC activists have been
murdered, tortured and disappeared and not a single prosecution has been
brought. In many of the cases the perpetrators of these serious crimes are
known and have been reported to the authorities. Despite this not a single
prosecution has been instituted. In this context this new prosecution is a
direct breach of both the letter and spirit of the GPA. The rule of law
demands that there should be consistency in prosecutions. One cannot turn a
blind eye to serious crimes committed by members of one political party and
then proceed with the utmost vigour to prosecute a member of another party
for a petty crime which is alleged to have been committed 9 years ago.
In conclusion this new prosecution of Senator Bennett would appear to be
unconstitutional and in any event is a serious breach of the GPA. It is
tantamount to persecution and we call upon the Attorney General to
immediately withdraw the charges in the national interest. We cannot afford
as a Nation to allow individuals bent on derailing the GPA get away with
their heinous intent.
Senator David Coltart
Secretary for Legal Affairs
2nd April 2010
(AFP) - 6 hours ago
CAPE TOWN - South Africa's government on Friday said it will fight a court
ruling that allowed white farmers who lost land under President Robert
Mugabe's reforms to claim a Zimbabwean state-owned house.
The 2.5-million-rand (344,000 dollar, 254,000 euro) house in Cape Town was
legally seized on Tuesday, after a court said a regional ruling that
Zimbabwe's government must compensate the farmers was enforceable in South
"We are appealing the judgement," South Africa's foreign affairs head of
diplomacy Kgomotso Molobi told AFP.
The regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal found in
2008 that Zimbabwe had wrongly taken land from nearly 80 farmers, saying
they had been targeted due to their race.
Zimbabwe has rejected the verdict, but a South African court in February
ruled that it could be applied locally.
The house in the Cape Town suburb of Kennilworth was not protected by
diplomatic immunity and was legally attached or seized by the sheriff's
office on Tuesday.
An appeal against the court ruling by the South African government will be
opposed, the farmers' lawyer Willie Spies said on Friday.
"If they challenge this, then obviously we will oppose the challenge," he
Mugabe launched the land reforms a decade ago, aiming to correct a colonial
legacy that left whites owning most of the best farmland.
But the chaotic campaign was marred by deadly political violence and wrecked
the farm-based economy, leaving the country dependent on international food
By A Correspondent
Published: April 2, 2010
(CAPETOWN) The lawyer representing farmers who have taken a move to attach
Zimbabwe government assets in South Africa for payment of compensation, has
threatened to wrestle the South African government if they oppose the move.
‘If they challenge this, then obviously we will oppose the challenge’ – the
lawyer, Willie Spies said answering to questions after a South African
government official had announced that they are now to launch an appeal to
defend Zimbabwe’s assets on what they have termed ‘diplomatic grounds’.
The state owned Herald newspaper was quick to state Thursday that the appeal
now effectively ’stops the farmers, represented by a body that calls itself
Afriforum, from attaching Zimbabwe Government property in South Africa’.
However, the Zimbabwean government’s 2.5-million-rand (about 344,000 dollar,
254,000 euro) house in Cape Town had already been legally seized on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe’s government is relying on an announcment by Chief Director for
Public Diplomacy in South Africa’s Department of International Relations Mr
Kgomotso Molobi on Wednesday in which he said that they had appealed against
“The South African government has studied the judgement and it is appealing
against it. However, we can’t comment further because the matter is before
the courts and it would be sub-judice,” Mr Molobi said.
The ruling, by South African judge, Justice Garth Rabbie, re-inforced a
recent Sadc Tribunal judgement made in Namibia which ruled against Zimbabwe’s
government on the illegal farm seizures.
Zimbabwe’s government has flouted local commercial and international laws
while also ignoring ethical rules by expropriating land without following
procedures of compensation to the farmers before being removed from their
property. To date many farmers still have not been paid compensation for
farmland taken since President Robert Mugabe began a controversial and
chaotic land reform programme in 2000. Most Zimbabwean farmers, now
displaced across the world are now set to launch lawsuits from different
parts of the world.
Harare, April 02, 2010 - The Zimbabwe Government property in South Africa is
protected by diplomatic immunity and cannot therefore be attached, Legal
Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the State-owned Herald in its Friday
Chinamasa was responding to reports that a civic organisation in South
Africa, Afriforum had successfully attached some properties in Cape Town,
South Africa this week, belonging to the Zimbabwe government as compensation
to white commercial farmers who lost their land during violent land
"Any judgement cannot be enforced... They cannot touch any of our properties
because they are under diplomatic immunity. If they think they can get
anything through the South African courts, they are just daydreaming."
The paper also said the South African government had appealed against a
ruling by a Pretoria high court judge last month upholding a Sadc Tribunal
judgement ordering Zimbabwe to attach property belonging to the Zimbabwe
government in South Africa.
The Sadc tribunal in Windhoek, Namibia ruled that the farmers should get
back their land.
However the Zimbabwe government responded by pulling out of the Tribunal, in
protest of the ruling, saying it was therefore no longer bound by the
The paper quoted a chief director for Public Diplomacy in South Africa's
Department of International Relations, Kgomotso Molobi, saying South Africa
had appealed against the ruling, which would stop any attachment of the
Zimbabwe government property in South Africa.
"The South African government has studied the judgement and it is appealing
against it. However, we can't comment further because the matter is before
the courts and it would be sub-judice," Molobi said.
Zimbabwe's Ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo was also quoted
saying: "The whole effort by this Afriforum organisation is to push a
racial agenda. It is a well-known racial organisation represented only by
white people. They only serve the interests of white former Rhodesian
farmers who do not appreciate the land reform programme but we cannot be
bound by their wishful thinking. This push to attach Zimbabwe Government
property is absolutely nonsensical."
Masvingo, April 02, 2010 - Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU)
secretary for legal affairs, Alick Tabe, will spent the Easter long weekend
in remand prison for taking part in a recent student administration that was
violently crashed by the police, resulting in several students throughout
the country being arrested.
ZINASU had urged its members throughout the country to stage demonstrations
to protest the slow implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)
which brought about the inclusive government and also high quality education
standards in Zimbabwe.
Senior magistrate Stanford Mambanje on Thursday denied Tabe bail when he
initially appeared in court facing a charge under the notorious Public Order
and Security Act (POSA). The other nine students arrested together with Tabe
were however released from police custody without a charge.
ZINASU co-ordinator, Mfundo Mlilo, said: "They want to punish him (Tabe) for
pressing ahead with the demo. How can he be arrested, and then denied bail
under such circumstances. This is what the demo was also demanding, it shows
that the people's rights to such freedoms are still unrecognized," Mlilo
The students have asked for the resignation of the Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri and the co-ministers of Home Affairs, Giles Mutsekwa of
MDC and Kembo Mohadi of Zanu PF, over their heavy handedness in the way they
crashed the students march.
Murambinda - April 02, 2010 - A member of President Robert Mugabe's much
dreaded arm, Central Intelligence Office (CIO), stunned villagers here when
he publicly apologised to them and told them that he felt bad that he had
been used to harass and torture innocent people by the previous Mugabe
Innocent Makamure, said he was used to victimise innocent members of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) during and after 2008 elections.
He was part of hit men who were based at Gaza business center here. He
confessed beating and torturing innocent people and now believes his actions
have brought misery and misfortunes to his family.
Makamure decided to come out in open and denounced the hand which used to
feed him, when his first born son died under mysterious
circumstances at Murambinda General Hospital last week.
"I was used for peanuts; I did not gain anything in my life by beating
people. In fact, I only brought misfortunes and misery to my family.
Though I did not kill anyone personally, I believe my actions and the role
which I played during campaigning for President Mugabe towards the June
run-off led to some deaths," he said in a public apology to the villagers.
"All I know is that I was used and I am no longer interested in such
activities again. A lot of things of course bad are happening to me.
At first it was my wife divorcing me, now my son just collapsed and when he
reached the hospital, he was pronounced dead," said Makamure.
Makamure said he believed there were a lot of people within the dreaded CIO
who were experiencing the same. He said it was unfortunate that when he was
being used he did not realise it. " I leant a lesson the hard way," he said.
RadioVOP was informed that Makamure was forced by his relatives to confess
all evil things which he did to cleanse the family. He has been asked by the
family to also go and apologise to Chief Makumbe of the area.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's rural home is under Chief Makumbe's
April 2, 2010 at 5:38 am
Harare- The United States government officially handed over a new, upgraded
bio-safety level 2+ laboratory to the Minister of Health, Dr. Henry
Madzorera. The facility will enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Health
and Child Welfare to offer clinical and diagnostic testing as well as
research on indigenous/exotic agents which may cause serious disease after
inhalation, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB),typhoid (Salmonella
Typhi),anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) and the H1N1 virus.
Speaking after a tour of the facilities with the Minister of Health and
Child Welfare, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray described the
cooperation between the government of Zimbabwe, the private sector, and the
international community as 'historic."
"This is an historic occasion. The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is
entering into a mutually beneficial relationship with a non-traditional
partner, a private research laboratory administered by the National
Microbiology Reference Laboratory (NMRL) and Biomedical Research and
Training Institute (BRTI). This cooperation will significantly enhance
Zimbabwe's testing efficiency and enable research capacity as never before,"
said the U.S. Ambassador.
The laboratory received US$120,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for
the renovation of the laboratory and the procurement of supplies. In
addition, CDC trained laboratory personnel on conducting assays and quality
Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr. Madzorera described the donation
from the U.S. as a great enhancement to the service delivery system in the
health sector. "This is a good sample of collaboration and working
together. I was pleased to hear that we are now one of the top four level
2+ laboratories in the region. It means we are no longer going to export
testing samples to South Africa or Zambia for H1N1 and many other diseases,"
said the Minister.
"I was particularly pleased by the fact that that we can now diagnose HIV
early in infants at the rate of 70 samples an hour, which is a great
enhancement of our service delivery," said Madzorera. Previous testing
methods only allowed Zimbabwe to determine HIV status in 100 samples a day.
2nd Apr 2010 18:10 GMT
By Morgan Tsvangirai
My fellow Zimbabweans,
It gives me great pleasure to take this weekly opportunity to speak to you
directly about issues of importance and concern that face us as a nation.
In promoting a new Government culture of transparency and accountability, I
will use this platform to interact directly with you so that key issues can
be aired, discussed and clarified.
As you are aware, there will shortly be new independent daily newspapers on
the streets of Zimbabwe, in line with my promise to open up the media space
to ensure that the voices of the people are heard and listened to. Until
this process is complete and the State media has been transformed into a
truly public media and independent radio and television licenses have been
issued, Zimbabweans will continue to face difficulties in making informed
My fellow Zimbabweans, I was extremely encouraged by the visit of South
African President Jacob Zuma to Zimbabwe earlier this month in his role as
facilitator of the Global Political Agreement. His attention to detail and
dedication to breaking the impasse in order that our country can make
progress on delivering services and freedoms to the people was heartening
and I thank him for his continued role as facilitator.
However, after the most recent round of negotiations it appears that the
issues that have stalled progress for more than a year are still being used
to avoid creating the open, free and prosperous society that our people
demand and deserve.
If this situation continues, I will ask President Zuma to call upon SADC to
break the deadlock once and for all. We cannot allow our nation to be
trapped indefinitely by the failed policies of the past, while countries
around us prioritise people's rights, economic development and the rule of
In addition, the continued unilateral actions by some amongst us is a threat
to cohesion within the Government. We must act and speak together in
mattersof national interest within the spirit of consensus and collective
responsibility which is the foundation of the transitional Government.
As a nation, we have obligations to our citizens and the international
community to promote the rule of law and human rights if we are to assume
our rightful position in the international family of nations.
Therefore, there can be no place in the new Zimbabwe for hate speech or the
persecution of any sector of our population based on race, gender, tribe,
culture, sexual orientation or political affiliation. All of us are entitled
to our own opinions on certain values and beliefs, but in order to move our
nation forward and achieve national reconciliation and healing, we have to
uphold and foster the fundamental principle of tolerance, including
tolerance of people that have chosen to live, believe and vote differently
For too long, many of you, my fellow Zimbabweans, have not had the freedom
of choice. Our new constitution shall be the cornerstone of a new society
that embraces this particular freedom of choice and tolerance of both
majority and minority views.
I thank you.