Saturday, February 14, 2009

MDC Treasurer Arrested in Zimbabwe

Some of you know my interest in democracy in Zimababwe - well the last 24 hours have seen a new low. Roy Bennett, treasurer for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe and deputy agriculture minister designate, was yesterday abducted by members of the notorious Law and Order unit as he was leaving the country on a flight to South Africa.Bennett had entered Zimbabwe on the morning of 11 February to attend the inauguration of MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister.

This would mark the start of the unity government with Zanu-PF President Robert Mugabe.The aeroplane Bennett was on was already taxing down the runway at the Prince Charles airport outside Harare but was stopped shortly after a Mercedes Benz had pulled up at the control tower and ordered that the plane be turned around. Bennett had already cleared customs and the aeroplane had been given clearance to take-off.

Under international aviation law it is illegal to stop a plane, without an injunction, that has been given clearance.Bennett was "manhandled" off the plane and put into a white Hilux pick-up truck. The Law and Order officials did not have an arrest warrant and verbally abused Bennett's colleagues when they demanded the warrant.Bennett was transported to Mutare Central Police Station where he was charged with treason related to a 2006 arrest warrant put out by Mugabe's security establishment after they alleged that Bennett was plotting to kill the president.Bennett was forced to skip the country as a result of this warrant and has been living in South Africa since under self-imposed exile. 

Bennett is a bugbear to Zanu-PF because he is the MDC's link to the international donor community. The fact that he was also recently appointed deputy agricultural minister designate has created nervousness among Zanu-PF veterans who have benefited from the government's controversial land invasions. When Bennett was in Zimbabwe two weeks ago for the national council debate on joining the government of national unity he visited his old farm, Charleswood, which "generated panic and pandemonium of the farm," according to a source. Zanu-PF's obsession with Bennett is so heightened that there was recently an email circulated in Zimbabwe, it is thought by the Central Intelligence Organisation, claiming that Bennett was responsible for dispensing the cholera germ into the central Harare water supply. 

Bennett's arrest has been driven by the Joint Operations Command (JOC), which is unhappy with the unity deal. It is believed that the head of JOC and newly sworn in Minister of Defence Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered the arrest. Mnangagwa's main supporters in Bennett's arrest are head of police Augustine Chihuri, head of the defence force Constantine Chiwenga, and head of the prison service Paradzai Zimondi.Most of the JOC generals refused to attend the swearing in ceremony of the new unity cabinet yesterday, despite repeated requests from that they attend.The arrest of Bennett has highlighted a split in the Zanu-PF leadership as two centres of power – one that is pro-unity government and the other that is anti-unity government – have become defined.

Mugabe is supportive of the unity government, while Mnangagwa wants to scupper the deal. Zanu-PF is likely to use Bennett's arrest to weaken the MDCs hand in the unity government – including a trade off of blanket amnesty for the security chiefs who have committed most the human rights violations associated with the recent elections.

Zanu-PF could also demand that Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono retain his position, according to a source close to the situation.Mutare prison is notorious for its appalling conditions. A large group of protestors have gathered around the prison and have vowed to keep a vigil until Bennett is released. 


Dick the Prick said...

Bit smelly this one - how come MDC seemed so chill about all of it?

I'm thinking dude was an a bit out of order for everyone.

Atlas Shrugged said...

Sometimes Iain, and this is most surly one of those sometimes. Things are just so bad its best not to bother even going there.

In the sense that when the population are literally dieing in the street in the thousands. Who gives a monkeys about the finer points of which criminal despot is doing what to which another criminal despot?

People are DIEING Iain in this world in the year 2009.

This because of an almost total lack of something as should be widely available as FOOD and basic medical care.

Does anyone out there seriously still believe this is not being achieved by deliberate UN, and other internationalist policy???????

The worlds elites not only clearly do not give a bugger about starving Africans. I am personally not at all sure, they will care one little bit about future starving Europeans either.

These people have a policy of radically reducing the worlds population. This is there STATED AIM.

While this is still the case, it seems obvious to myself at least that Mugabe is doing the bidding of the international community, whether he is doing so intentionally or not.

I seriously do believe Mugabe is not only committing mass murder intentionally he is taking UN bribes to help hurry up the process.

Dick the Prick said...

I went off on one about mining - that territory is all and that trust in a currency system is important.

There was an engineer on Ch4 news the other day with that Chris Smith dude (whose head is peter griffen) andif we can't trust money then we should trust trust.

I think it a despicable line of attack that right wing people are racists or even capable of it. I'm not sure that a 'do whatever the fuck you like bud but don't take the piss, alright?' party ever starts administration.

Zimbabwe is slow motion imagary of how humans kill each other - in freeze frame to notice the expressions and stories. Now end.

Dick the Prick said...

Iain - hats off to Chris Paul on this one. Fair and balanced (ish). Nah, seriously - thae lad knows his stuff and I never have the balls to shout; brilliant quality.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Why do these events not surprise me?