Arda sold Bennett’s coffee for $200 000


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The Agricultural Development Authority sold Movement for Democratic Change legislator Roy Bennett’s coffee crop for $200 000 to a Germany company and Bennett was arrested at the Harare airport on his way to South Africa to give proof to his lawyers.

This was disclosed by another MDC legislator David Coltart after Bennett was arrested. Bennett was already facing a 15-month jail for assaulting two cabinet ministers, Patrick Chinamasa and Didymus Mutasa, in Parliament.

Coltart said Bennett was not trying to run away from the country but was going to Johannesburg and returning the same day. He had documents which he wanted to go and give his lawyers in South Africa.

The documents were about his coffee crop which had been sold after he was evicted from his farm in April 2004.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE1787, MDC MP BENNETT JAILED

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1787

2004-10-28 15:26

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001787

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC MP BENNETT JAILED

 

REF: A. HARARE 858

B. HARARE 634

 

1. On Thursday morning, October 28, police at Harare

International Airport arrested Chimanimani MDC MP Roy Bennett

on charges of obstruction of justice. According to Bulawayo

MP and MDC Secretary for Legal Affairs David Coltart, Bennett

was on his way to a business meeting in Johannesburg, South

Africa and was scheduled to return to Harare the same day.

The arrest follows the Parliametary Privileges Committee

recommendation on October 27 that Bennett be jailed for 15

months “with labor” after assaulting two Cabinet ministers in

May. (See RefA). Bennett’s lawyers launched an urgent

application for his release, which is scheduled to be heard

tomorrow. The police subsequently released Bennett into the

custody of Parliament for today to enable him to present his

arguments to Parliament, which is debating the report and

will likely vote on the penalty. Under the Privileges,

Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act, Parliament has the

power either to fine or imprison for up to two years any

member found guilty of contempt of Parliament.

 

2. Coltart told poloff that Bennett had recently uncovered

the location of his coffee crop and was traveling to South

Africa to hand over important documents to his South

African-based lawyers. Bennett planned to be back in Harare

by that afternoon in time to argue against the Parliamentary

Committee,s recommendation of a jail sentence. Coltart said

Bennett only had the coffee documents in his possession at

the time of his arrest. Bennett was evicted from his farm in

April 2004 (See RefB) and, according to Coltart, the

Agriculture Rural Development Authority (ARDA), the

government parastatal that assumed control of the farm, sold

Bennett,s coffee crop for $200,000 to a German company.

After learning of the jail recommendation, Bennett wanted to

get the supporting documentation to his attorneys in South

Africa before a likely jail sentence was imposed.

 

3. Comment: It is not surprising that the Parliamentary

committee recommended jail time for Bennett. As a white

farmer elected on an MDC ticket in a purported ZANU-PF rural

stronghold, Bennett has been a thorn in the ruling party,s

side for several years; a jail term would be a way for the

party to be rid of him, at least until after the March

Parliamentary elections. If Parliament supports the

committee,s recommendation and sentences Bennett to jail, an

outcome for which Bennett’s lawyers are preparing given the

ruling party’s near super-majority in Parliament, Bennett

would still retain his seat. He ostensibly could still run

in the next Parliamentary election, although some ruling

party officials have asserted that the loss of his farm would

deprive him of the residency necessary to run in his rural

Chimanimani district. End Comment.

DELL

(22 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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