Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Roy Bennett ‘shocked’ at being replaced

By Nkululeko Sibanda

MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett, who had been seconded as deputy minister of agriculture, has expressed shock and surprise at the decision by his party to replace him.

Roy Bennett with PM Tsvangirai

Bennett was picked by Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai as the deputy minister of Agriculture at the inception of the inclusive government in February 2009 but President Robert Mugabe refused to swear him in. He claimed the former Chimanimani legislator had cases to answer in the courts. Bennett was eventually acquitted of treason and several other charges in April last year.

On Monday, just about three years since the formation of the coalition government and of Mugabe’s adamant stance, the MDC announced that it had picked Seiso Moyo, who had been earmarked for the governorship of Bulawayo, as Bennett’s replacement.

Moyo was sworn in by Mugabe, alongside Lucia Matibenga who replaced the late public service minister, Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, as members of the cabinet. In an interview from his United Kingdom base yesterday, Bennett said he was surprised that the MDC had finally submitted to Mugabe’s demands.

“I am actually shocked to hear that someone else has been sworn in to replace me as the deputy minister of agriculture,” said Bennett.

“What surprises me is that no-one in the party has had the courtesy to pick up the phone and inform me that this is a decision they have made. It means that at the end of the day, the party has bowed down to Mugabe’s demands and he (Mugabe) has finally had his day,” Bennett added.

The former legislator, who was jailed for several months after flooring Zanu PF members of Parliament who included Patrick Chinamasa and Didymus Mutasa during a scuffle in Parliament, said he had met several party officials in Johannesburg, South Africa last week and none of them communicated the decision to replace him.

“I met the vice president, Thokozani Khuphe and Minister (Elton) Mangoma in Johannesburg last week.

“None of the officials said anything with regards to that decision. And now to hear this from somewhere is quite shocking. “I thought someone would have the courtesy of calling me and informing me of the decision the party had made,” Bennett added.

The latest turn of events could turn out to pose a problem for the MDC-T party which had apparently struck an agreement with Bennett that it would not back down on a principle in which the former opposition party had agreed to stick with their treasurer general for the post.

Bennett is viewed as having strong links with the international community where he has managed to derive massive support for his party. At its elective congress in May this year, the MDC voted overwhelmingly for Bennett to see him reclaim his post as the party’s treasurer general. This was despite the fact that he was in self-imposed exile.

MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora said the party held an urgent meeting where the Bennett’s issue was discussed. “I am in a meeting at the moment. We are discussing that issue as we speak. I will get back to you as soon as the meeting is done,” said Mwonzora last night. He was however yet to respond at the time of going to press. Daily News