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Biography of Roy BENNETT

Zimbabwe > Politics : Roy BENNETT

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Born on 16/02/1957 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Roy Leslie Bennett (b. February 16, 1957),is a  Zimbabwean politician and former white farmer.

Career: Treasurer of the Movement for Democratic Change, 2000-2002; Member of Parliament for Chimanimani, 2000-2005; member of the MDC standing committee, 2002-2007; jailed for 15 months after fight in Parliament with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, 2004; released from jail, 2005; fled to South Africa after being accused of trying to assassinate President Robert Mugabe, 2006; re-elected treasurer of MDC, 2007-; deputy Minister of Agriculture-designate, 2009-;

Comment: Bennett, a former colonial policeman and coffee farmer, is probably the most powerful white farmer and politician in Zimbabwe at the moment. As treasurer of the MDC, he is probably the third most powerful person in the party after President Morgan Tsvangirai and Secretary-general Tendai Biti. Though currently deputy Minister of Agriculture, the backbone of the country’s economy, he is only a deputy because the ministry was reserved for ZANU-PF.

Bennett rose to prominence in 2000 when he beat Munacho Mutezo of ZANU-PF, who was later appointed Minister of Water Resources, in the rural constituency of Chimanimani by more than 3000 votes, despite widespread intimidation and losing his Charleswood Farm. Fluent in Shona, Bennett, who is also popularly known as Pachedu (Between ourselves), had a costly confrontation with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa in Parliament in 2004. He was jailed for 15 months but was released in 2005 when it was already too late to contest that year’s parliamentary elections. He was back in trouble a year later when he was accused of plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe and fled to South Africa where he sought asylum. He was re-appointed MDC treasurer while in exile and only returned after the formation of the all-inclusive government in February 2009. Although he had been appointed deputy Minister of Agriculture, he was not sworn in but was instead arrested on the 2006 charges. He is currently pending trial. The government has refused to give him his passport back which means he cannot travel on either party, personal or government business.

The charges against Bennett are largely believed to be tactical, a way for ZANU-PF hardliners to wreck the all-inclusive government but Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has insisted that the all inclusive government is not reversible. Bennett is likely to play a key role in any future government dominated by the majority party, the MDC. He will definitely be offered a key ministerial post, thus instilling confidence among the few white farmers left and reassuring the international community.

Last update : 10/23/2009

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