No angels for Mugabe

2010-05-12 09:37

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party are still

determined to nail Roy Bennett despite his acquittal by the high court on Monday

and have ordered government lawyers to appeal against Justice Chinembiri Bhunu’s


Government chief law officer Chris Mutangadura who made the

prosecution team led by attorney-general (AG) Johannes Tomana and Director of

Prosecutions Florence Ziyambi said in an interview with City Press today that he

had been instructed to prepare papers of appeal.

Mutangadura said: “We have a right to appeal. I am right now

preparing papers to send to the high court seeking the green light to make our

appeal at the Supreme Court. It has been discovered that there is some evidence

presented during the trial which the high court failed to analyse


This latest development confirms fears among political analysts

that Mugabe was still out to get Bennett even after the high court found him not

guilty of the treason charges he was being accused of, and set him free.

Although the AG conceded defeat and said soon after the ruling on

Monday that the high court judgment was final, it appears his political masters

will have none of that.

Zanu-PF secretary for legal affairs and leader of a powerful

faction of Mugabe’s party, Emmerson Mnangagwa, came out on national television

the day Bennett was acquitted declaring that the acquittal was


He said also that Bennett’s acquittal, even were it not appealed

against, did not mean that he was then going to be sworn-in as a government


That decision, said Mnangagwa, was purely a prerogative of the

president who could not be persuaded or pushed to do anything.

President Mugabe refused to swear-in Bennett, who is Prime Minister

Morgan Tsvangirai’s choice for deputy agriculture minister, arguing that he was

facing a serious crime and that he would only swear him in after the case was


The appointment of Bennett has been a source of trouble in

Zimbabwe’s fragile inclusive government where his party, the MDC, demands that

he be given the portfolio allocated to him by the party while Mugabe and his

Zanu-PF say he is not fit to be in government because he is a white man who

fought alongside the colonial forces during the liberation war.

Zanu-PF chief spin doctor, former information minister, Professor

Jonathan Moyo, said yesterday: “It is absurd and reprehensible to the extreme

and this is provocative for the MDC-T to call Bennett an ‘angel’ when it is

common cause that he was an active member of the murderous Rhodesian infantry

during the liberation struggle.

“Just like former Nazis in Israel are not angels, former members of

the murderous Rhodesian army are not angels but devils with no place in any

government in a free Zimbabwe.”

Moyo was furious that MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa had described

Bennett as “an angel who had no case to answer” soon after his acquittal on


The MDC is nonetheless adamant that Bennett must be sworn-in

immediately because Mugabe no longer has an excuse.

Chamisa said: “We’re gratified that now we will have Roy Bennett

sworn in as deputy minister of agriculture because all the stumbling blocks have

been cleared. So we expect to have honourable Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture

minister tomorrow, because he is an angel. He has no case to answer.”

The latest decision by the state to appeal against the acquittal

may, however, overturn this completely.

Political analysts and legal experts in Harare said today that if

the high court granted the state the right to appeal, that could keep the

Bennett case stuck in the Supreme Court for years – given Zimbabwe’s ponderous

legal system – effectively killing all chances of Bennett’s swearing-in.

Mugabe was this morning chairing a weekly meeting of his party’s

highest decision-making body, the politburo, and Bennett’s issue was expected to

be high on the agenda.

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