THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Zimbabwe court bars jailed MP from running in poll
March 27, 2005

His wife Heather will now run in his place

Harare - A jailed white opposition MP will not be allowed to run in parliamentary polls, Zimbabwe's new electoral court said on Saturday, reversing an earlier ruling that had angered President Robert Mugabe. One of the Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC) best-known candidates, Roy Bennett is serving a 12-month jail term for assaulting a government minister during a debate last year. The court said it had made the decision in consultation with Bennett and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Bennett's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told Reuters. She said his wife Heather would now run in his place. The court had originally ruled that Bennett could stand for re-election despite his imprisonment. It delayed the countrywide March 31 vote to April 30 in his constituency to give him time to campaign. But the ruling annoyed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Mugabe, who said the country would not be "held ransom by a man who is in prison". He told supporters of his ruling Zanu PF to proceed with campaigning in the constituency.

Mtetwa said Bennett had reached an agreement with the commission to have the Chimanimani election held on March 31 after the government appealed against the earlier ruling. "We took a practical decision after coming to the conclusion that our chances of winning the case in the Supreme Court were very small," Mtetwa said. The Electoral Court was set up under reforms by Mugabe's government ahead of next week's elections. Critics say the reforms are little more than window-dressing to mask an electoral landscape still tilted in Zanu PF's favour. Bennett had his coffee farm confiscated under the government's controversial land reform programme designed to give white-owned farms to landless blacks. His wife Heather said she agreed with her husband's decision, adding that holding the vote in Chimanimain after March 31 would increase the chances of it being rigged by Zanu PF. "It was in the interest of the people of Chimanimani to hold the election now so that Zanu PF will not be able to concentrate its resources like its militia in one constituency," she said.

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.