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Pachedu: MDC Roy Bennett Dies in Plane Crash

Harare - Former MDC treasurer Roy Leslie Bennett has died. He was 61. The fiery opposition politician was killed in a helicopter crash in...

Harare - Former MDC treasurer Roy Leslie Bennett has died. He was 61.

The fiery opposition politician was killed in a helicopter crash in Canada together with his wife Heather.

Bennett was born on 16 February 1957, was a Zimbabwean politician and former member of the British South Africa Police. 

He was also a member of the House of Assembly of Zimbabwe for the seat of Chimanimani, where he is affectionately known as Pachedu (loosely translated as "Between Us"). 

He is currently the Treasurer of the Movement for Democratic Change party led by Morgan Tsvangirai and a member of the Senate of Zimbabwe. He was set to become the Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Zimbabwe until President Robert Mugabe refused to swear him in.

He was one of the three white parliamentarians elected in the Zimbabwean parliamentary election, 2000 despite the intimidation against MDC voters by supporters of ZANU-PF. 
The Late Roy Bennet 

During the election campaign, his wife who was three months pregnant, was physically abused by ZANU activists on their farm and subsequently miscarried her baby boy.

In 2004, during a parliamentary debate in which Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was pushing to amend the mandatory three-year sentence for stock theft to nine years, Bennett argued that only because the ZANU-PF government had stolen cattle did they now want to revert to a repressive Rhodesian law. Chinamasa then said:

“ Mr. Bennett has not forgiven the government for acquiring his farm, but he forgets that his forefathers were thieves and murderers.”

Bennett stood up and walked towards Chinamasa, shouting, "Unoda kundijairira iwewe nhai nhai! Unoda kuti ndiite sei? ( Don't think you can get away with trying to take advantage of me! What do you want me to do?)

Bennett then pushed Chinamasa, who fell to the floor. He was kicked from behind by Anti-Corruption Minister Didymus Mutasa, whom he then unsuccessfully tried to punch. 

ZANU-PF MP Elliot Manyika reached for a gun in his jacket and threatened Bennett. The Sergeant at Arms escorted Bennett out of the chamber. Deputy Speaker Edna Madzongwe ejected Nelson Chamisa and Willias Madzimure for their involvement in the fight.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition condemned the actions of Bennett and Chinamasa.

A bill of attainder was then passed. The parliamentary committee investigating the incident, which eventually imprisoned Bennett for 15 months, consisted of three Zanu PF MPs and two MDC MPs. While the MDC MPs vehemently defended Bennett, he was still imprisoned as ZANU-PF had a majority of seats on the committee.

On 28 June 2005, Bennett was released from Chikurubi Prison after spending eight months of his twelve-month sentence in custody. It is standard prison procedure to commute a third of any sentence for good behaviour. 

He told reporters he had been made to stand naked in front of prison guards and was then given a prison uniform covered with human excrement and lice when he arrived in jail. 

He denounced prison conditions generally in a press conference after his release, saying, "The inhumanity with which the prisoners are treated and their total lack of recourse to any representation or justice combined with the filth and stench of daily life is something I will never forget and I will not rest until their conditions are improved." 

Bennett was also scarred by the screams he would hear from other prisoners being beaten on the soles of their feet.

Bennett declared his desire to continue in politics, saying, "I am more determined than ever to continue to strive for a better Zimbabwe for all Zimbabweans, the current oppression cannot continue for much longer and sooner, rather than later, the people will assert their rights." 

He also said that if the opportunity arose and the people for Chimanimani asked him to, he would stand as their representative again.

On His release from prison, he revealed gory details of the life in prison.

"Five people died while I was inside and it took the prison officers four to five days to remove the bodies," Mr Bennett said as he emerged from prison in the town of Mutare, 188 miles east of Harare.

"There are gross human rights abuses behind those walls. People are suffering... They are having a single meal a day. The situation behind there is pathetic."

MDC  leader Morgan Tsvangirai nominated Mr Bennett to be deputy agriculture minister in the country's new coalition administration, but he was arrested before he had a chance to take office.

The former coffee farmer, whose land was seized several years ago, was arrested on February 13 over charges connected with an alleged plot in 2006 to assassinate the President, Robert Mugabe. - Online Sources

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