Harare – Zimbabwe’s prime minister has said the refusal of Zimbabwe’s longtime president to appoint a white politician to the Cabinet is racist.
But a spokesperson for President Robert Mugabe’s party says Roy Bennett’s appointment as deputy agriculture minister is stalled for legal reasons.
Bennett, a white farmer, is popular among black and white members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party. Tsvangirai has been pressing for Bennett to be brought into the Cabinet for months.
Tsvangirai said yesterday that Mugabe told him on Monday that he would not appoint Bennett.
“The matter of Roy Bennett has now become a personal vendetta, and a racial agenda against Bennett,” Tsvangirai said at a news conference.
The state has appealed Bennett’s May acquittal of what the MDC says were trumped up charges of plotting to overthrow Mugabe.
Spokesperson for Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party Rugare Gumbo said yesterday that the appeal must be concluded before Bennett’s Cabinet appointment can be considered.
Tsvangirai is calling on Zimbabwe’s neighbours to intervene to resolve the dispute over Bennett and other issues dividing the unity government formed last year.
Bennett was arrested on the plot charges on the same day that Cabinet ministers took oaths of office in the government that brought longtime rivals together.
A fluent speaker of the local Shona language, Bennett makes it difficult for Mugabe to cast all whites as the enemy, a favourite rhetorical tactic. Bennett is also seen as symbolising defiance against the seizure of land from whites that Mugabe has championed.