Roy Bennett, a former farmer, and the opposition MDC’s firebrand treasurer was meant to be sworn in as deputy minister for agriculture in Zimbabwe’s new, election result-defying unity government. Instead, on landing at Charles Prince Airport, he was arrested and taken to the police station in Mutare, a town in the north-east of Zimbabwe.
According to the Zimbabwean human rights blog This is Zimbabwe, he was deprived food during the night. Supporters gathered to protest and police responded by firing live bullets. The supporters have been watching closely, the blog says, to ensure that Bennett was not surreptitiously removed and taken to a torture camp.
According to an MDC press release on This is Zimbabwe, it is believed that the intelligence services (which Zanu PF has retained control of in the new administration) is behind the detention:
It is understood that the abduction, arrest and charging of MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate Roy Bennett is being planned, directed and operationalised by the Zimbabwe Military Intelligence Directorate (MID), led by one Mzilikazi, and the Special Agency SAS, the torture unit of the army, led by one Manene . General Constantine Chiwenga is also party to it. These people are known for their declared passionate and fanatical hatred of Roy Bennett.
With the arrest and imprisonment of Bennett, the unity government has been shown for what it is: a sinister attempt by Mugabe and a cabal of Southern African leaders to coerce the opposition MDC — and winners of the March 29 election — into legitimising a dying and destructive dictatorship .
Prime Minister Tsvangarai should never have entered this hellish marriage. The sooner it falls apart, and fresh, free and fair elections are held, the better. Zimabweans deserve freedom, not oppression with a “respectable” facade.