Acquittal of Roy Bennett was long overdue

roybennettThe acquittal of the Honorable Roy Bennett (pictured) again brings to the fore all that is wrong within our justice delivery system. While all right thinking people are celebrating the just conclusion to the case, sight must not be lost of the fact that he should never have been charged in the first place.

The fact that he was discharged and acquitted at the close of the state case in a case personally prosecuted by no less a persona than the Attorney General himself, speaks volumes about the competence and professionalism or lack of it of the people occupying the esteemed office of the highest prosecuting authority in the land. The ruling by the court should leave those who zealously and vigorously persecuted Honourable Bennett with such unparalleled vindictiveness with a lot of egg on their faces and in a normal situation; one would expect resignations to be in order.

It is very sad to see professionals pursuing a hopeless case well knowing the case to be hopeless, merely to fulfill a political agenda. In their hearts of hearts, they knew that they were flogging a dead horse, but proceeded, nevertheless, merely because it suited certain political agendas. This was to provide the excuse that Hon. Bennett could not be sworn as the Deputy Minister of Agriculture because he had a pending case. Yet everyone knows this to be nonsensical because the Honourable Matinenga had a pending trial at the time he was sworn in as Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs. Similarly, Hon. Deputy Minister Mutambara had a pending case when he was sworn in.

While we welcome the ruling which at long last, has freed the Honourable Bennett from his ordeal, we are concerned by the unnecessarily long time it took for the case to be concluded. Justice delayed is justice denied, and we bemoan the numerous remands and postponements of the matter. We believe that Honourable Bennett’s innocence was as clear as distilled water, and it should not have taken ages to come to that conclusion.

Be that as it may, our greater concern is with the prosecuting authority which should have known better than to waste precious state resources pursuing a hopeless case when there are more serious matters which should be attended to. Furthermore, this is not an isolated case but is in fact, the norm and follows a ling line of frivolous prosecutions such as that of the Right Honourable Prime Minister Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, which, needless to say resulted in an acquittal, and Honourable Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, which did not even see the light of the day and whose foundation was so amateurish that it was, in fact, an embarrassment on the authors of the fake document upon which the case was based.

Time has come for us to call a spade a spade and these malicious prosecutions must be brought to an end. They have not been confined to politicians only, but extent to people like Jestina Mukoko, whose experiences are so harrowing that one feels ashamed to be a Zimbabwean, lawyers Aleck Muchadehama, Harison Nkomo and and Mordecai Mahlangu, whose only crime is to try to practice their noble profession in a country where the Rule of Law is being trampled upon.

Now that Honourable Bennett has been acquitted, we expect those who were bleating that he could not be sworn in because he had a pending case to be putting in motion the necessary processes to enable him to take his place in the inclusive government, as only the Movement for Democratic Change has the right to nominate whosoever it wants to serve in any position. We hope that sanity and good sense will prevail at long last in a country where madness at times seems to be the order of the day. But alas, we hear disquieting noises from some quarters which should know better about an appeal where one would expect them to see sense, so that the country can move forward. Obduracy and dogged determination should have no place in the new Zimbabwe we are trying to build.

As the MDC, we believe that the delivery of justice should be the cornerstone of any country that wants to call itself democratic and malicious prosecutions should have no place in Zimbabwe. The authority in charge of prosecutions should not be motivated by political considerations or be partisan, but pursue all matters without fear or favour. We should not be having any sacred cows where the murderers of Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika are all roaming the country scot free more than ten years down the line. Similarly, all those who brought mayhem and pandemonium after the 29th of March 2008 elections, should start facing the music.

But this can only happen when we are genuinely committed to the upholding of the Rule of Law. That day will come when real change is brought to Zimbabwe by the Movement for Democratic Change when it wins the next elections under a new people driven constitution. The will of the people shall prevail in the end.

Hon. Innocent Gonese

MDC Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs

Post published in: News

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