Mugabe a front for military dictatorship, says PM aide


SENIOR MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC) politician, Roy Bennett has claimed Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe is just a front man for a military dictatorship that refuses to relinquish power in the country.

The outspoken adviser to prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai told the BBC that Mr Mugabe wanted to stand down after losing out to the MDC leader in the first round of the 2008 presidential election, but a small clique of generals forced him to stay on so they could continue to enrich themselves at the expense of Zimbabwe’s people. “They [the generals] have created huge wealth illegally. They have the power through the barrel of a gun. This junta will not allow power to be released hang on to that power and wealth that they hold now.”

Mr Bennett was speaking the day before chief justice Godfrey Chidyausiku was to rule on whether an appeal of Mr Bennett’s acquittal on charges of attempting to overthrow Mr Mugabe’s previous government, can go ahead.

The decision was expected yesterday, but Mr Bennett’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said Mr Justice Chidyausiku had indicated that it would take him a long time to reach a decision because the record was very bulky.

Mr Bennett, who is the MDC’s deputy agriculture designate in the transitional government, was acquitted last May because the High Court ruled that the state failed to prove its prima facie case. The state alleged he gave money to gun dealer Peter Michael Hitschmann to buy weapons to be used to assassinate Mr Mugabe.

Despite the acquittal, Mr Mugabe has refused to swear Mr Bennett into office even though he agreed to after a High Court ruling. Analysts say Mr Mugabe and his allies fear Mr Bennett would carry out a land audit once in office, which would show the level of corruption that has taken place since 2000 under Mr Mugabe’s controversial land reform programme.

When asked how he thought the supreme court ruling would go, Mr Bennett said it depended on what orders the judiciary were given by the “military junta ruling the country”. He added: “I honestly believe that Robert Mugabe – half the things that are going on – he has no idea about”.