MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett, who is facing a US$1 million defamation lawsuit and is being hunted down by the police, said he will not return to Zimbabwe until the political situation stabilises and rule of law is restored.
In a telephone interview with the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday from South Africa, Bennett said his wish was to return home, but at the moment he would continue staying in South Africa, assessing the situation.
He said: “I might come back, but it depends on the political situation in the country. Zanu PF is ruling with an iron fist. The issues that I am being accused of doing are false. They are lies and are just meant to torment me.”
Bennett said his decision not to return was also based on advice from his colleagues in the party.
“I must take counsel from my colleagues on that very issue, that counsel must come from what good can I serve sitting in jail in Zimbabwe with my passport taken away from me. In my position as the treasurer of the MDC I must be able to mobilise resources and be able to send support that is necessary to move our party forward, so that has to come first and foremost,” Bennett said.
“I will re-establish myself in South Africa and I will travel the world and I will highlight these issues. I will put them on the table and put as much pressure to expose the duplicity and total lack of respect by the Zanu PF junta for the people of Zimbabwe.”
He said allegations raised by Justice Chinembiri Bhunu that he defamed the judge were political, adding that he never made those comments in the media.
According to High Court case number HC 6724/10, Justice Bhunu is suing Bennett for US$1 million for allegedly defaming him in an interview with the Guardian newspaper of the UK on May 24 in which the MDC-T treasurer was quoted saying the judiciary was selective and that “the very judge that is trying me is the owner of a farm that he’s been given through political patronage”.
Since September, Bhunu’s lawyers said efforts to serve Bennett with the summons have proved fruitless.
This has prompted Bhunu’s lawyers to go for a chamber application to allow them to serve the senator with the summons through the press, the Herald specifically, claiming that the address he gave was non-existent.
Bhunu says the remarks “were intended to convey and be understood by the readers of the Guardian newspaper to mean that the plaintiff was not a fit and proper person to be a judge of this honourable court and to preside over the trial of the defendant in that: Plaintiff was deliberately selected to preside over the defendant’s trial by persons that will stop at absolutely nothing to achieve their ends by a selective application of the rule of law”.
Bennett yesterday said: “All these are
lies and I never gave a wrong address of where I am staying. The address that I gave of the flat when I applied for bail is there. It’s just Zanu PF’s way of wanting to torment me.”
He said he knew that the police were instructed to arrest him and he thinks that this was designed by Zanu PF to scuttle his appointment as deputy Agriculture minister.