Roy Bennett faces international lawsuit


Munyaradzi Wasosa

CHIMANIMANI Member of Parliament (MP) Roy Bennett faces an international lawsuit after Bennett Brothers Farming Enterprises, a firm in which he holds a major stake, fai

led to honour a deal to supply 18 tonnes of coffee valued at US$20 000 to a Korean company, the Zimbabwe Independent established this week.


This follows the seizure of Bennett’s Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani district by the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) earlier this year. Bennett last week accused Arda of seizing at least 160 tonnes of harvested Arabica coffee valued at US$200 000 from his company’s mills on the farm.


Arda and army personnel have barred the Chimanimani legislatorfrom recovering his coffee produce from the occupied farm.


Bennett Brothers Far-ming Enterprises clin-ched a deal to export 18 tonnes of coffee to a Korean company, K&Z International, with Scotland-based Endrick International acting as middleman.


However, the MDC MP failed to fulfill his contract following the seizure of the farm.


“Yes, we are in breach of an international contract and we can be sued for that,” Bennett said.


“Arda is to blame for all this. They have removed my cattle and now have sent coffee samples to the Grain Marketing Board (Mutare) to sell the farm’s 160 tonnes of coffee.”


Bennett said Endrick was demanding that his company fulfill the deal or face legal action.


“Endrick has demanded that we fulfill our end of the deal to supply them with coffee because there are legal implications to consider if we continue to be in breach of an international contract this big,” Bennett said.


Bennett said Arda was looting his company’s property that includes trucks and farm equipment.


Charleswood was one of Manicaland’s major exporters of agricultural products. It has an Export Processing Zone status but was seized by Arda all the same.


The 2 784-hectare farm was a joint venture between Zimbabwean and British investors, namely Bennett Brothers Far-ming Enterprises, Mc-Kinnon Africa (Pvt) Ltd and Mawenje Lodge (Pvt) Ltd.


Bennett’s lawyer, Arnold Tsunga, confirmed the demand by Endrick but said Arda chief executive Joseph Matowanyika did not turn up for a meeting to resolve the issue last week.


“We were supposed to meet Matowanyika over Arda’s seizure of Bennett’s property but he did not turn up,” Tsunga said.


Matowanyika this week did not answer questions faxed to him by the Independent.