Many observers were abhorred at Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett’s behaviour when he floored two Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Ministers in Parliament but an equal number were proud of him, according to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks.
Bennett the Member of Parliament for Chimanimani assaulted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and also punched and floored Anti-Corruption Minister Didymus Mutasa on 18 May 2004 after Chinamasa had told the House that the government was not going to reverse its decision on taking over Bennett’s farm in Chimanimani because his forefathers were “thieves and murderers”.
ZANU-PF supporters staged a demonstration in support of Chinamasa two days later calling for Bennett’s head.
Commenting on the demonstrations, United States embassy officials said Bennett was one of the most wanted men because “as the country’s only white MP representing a rural area (he) was embarrassing proof that the GOZ did not control all of rural Zimbabwe”
Viewing cable 04HARARE858, ZANU-PF STAGES DEMONSTRATION AGAINST MDC MP ROY
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 000858
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: ZANU-PF STAGES DEMONSTRATION AGAINST MDC MP ROY
REF: A. HARARE 682
¶B. HARARE 634
¶1. (U) SUMMARY: On May 20, ZANU-PF staged a demonstration in
downtown Harare against MDC MP Roy Bennett. The
demonstration came two days after Bennett assaulted Minister
of Justice Patrick Chinamasa in Parliament when the latter
commented on the government seizure of Bennett’s farm. END
¶2. (U) According to eyewitnesses, trucks ferried 200 – 300
ZANU-PF supporters to the Parliament building where
demonstrators chanted slogans and waved placards saying: “We
want the head of Bennett now”, “MDC Murderers”, Where is the
rule of the law Bennett?” and “Flush Bennett into the Blair
toilet”. The presidentially appointed governor for Harare,
Witness Mangwende addressed the crowd saying Bennett was no
longer welcome in Harare province. ZANU-PF Harare Chairman
Amos Midzi also thanked the demonstrators. The crowd cheered
as Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa entered Parliament.
Police reportedly looked on.
¶3. (U) The crowd then walked a few blocks to MDC headquarters
where eyewitnesses reported that demonstrators attempted to
break-in through the front door. The security gates were
pulled down, and a minor stone-throwing battle ensued between
MDC youths and demonstrators. Police entered MDC
headquarters and arrested six MDC youths, carting them away
in a police vehicle. A ZANU-PF official addressed the crowd,
which dispersed having been in front of MDC offices for about
an hour. Police closed Nelson Mandela Avenue (where the MDC
is located) during the demonstration.
¶4. (U) The demonstration came two days after Bennett
assaulted Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa in
Parliament. Addressing the full assembly, Chinamasa
reportedly said the government would not reverse its decision
to acquire Bennett’s farm in Chimanimani (Ref B) and that
Bennett had forgotten that his forefathers were “thieves and
murderers”. Reacting to the statements, Bennett charged at
Chinamasa and pushed him to the floor. Bennett also punched
and floored Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Minister
Didymus Mutasa (69).
¶5. (SBU) On April 9, soldiers, police and war vets seized
Bennett’s Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani despite five (now
six) High Court judgments affirming Bennett’s right to the
property, and calling for various government officials and
other groups to stay away (Refs A, B). Despite problems on
the farm, Bennett has been able to source funds for various
MDC activities, and there were numerous rumors that he could
organize an armed resistance to the government.
¶6. (SBU) As the country’s only white MP representing a rural
area, Bennett was embarrassing proof that the GOZ did not
control all of rural Zimbabwe. In addition, unsubstantiated
rumors of Bennett-organized guerrillas, and his funding for
opposition activities made him top the government’s most
wanted list. Many observers were abhorred at his behavior in
Parliament, but at least an equal number were proud of him.