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Hon. Roy Bennett's speech in Parliament in defence of the alleged breach of privilege
Hansard, Parliament of Zimbabwe
October 28, 2004

Read the Voting record on Hon. Roy Bennett's speech and sentence

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MOTION

REPORT ON THE ALLEGED BREACH BY HON. R. L. BENNETT

Second order read: Resumption of debate on motion on the report of the Privileges Committee on alleged breach of privilege by Hon. Bennett.

Question again proposed.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, with the leave of the House and with your permission yesterday, on the need to consult my legal advisors on pending matters, I took that opportunity. Unfortunately this morning, I was detained by Police at Harare International Airport and have been in Police Custody the whole day and am just coming from there now. I was going to Johannesburg International Airport where I had organised a meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel with my legal advisors – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]

In view of the serious allegations of the serious consequences I was facing yesterday, I realised that I had no time to settle these matters. Therefore, I had to have urgent consultation for legal advice to try to cover some of the questions of the copy that was laid before you. I stand before you as a Zimbabwean and an African. (HON MEMBERS: inaudible interjections.)

MR SPEAKER: Order

Mr BENNETT: I am extremely sorry for any disrespect or for any disturbance I have caused in this Parliament. I am sorry to you Hon. Speaker and I am sorry to you Hon. Chinamasa- [MR. CHINAMASA: Why didn’t you apologise earlier?]

Mr SPEAKER: Order

MR BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to explain that event and move back in time. I won the Coffee Grower of the Year Award of the three years of farming at Charleswood Farm. At the height of my time, I employed more than two thousand people at my farm. I have contributed back to my community. When I arrived there I went to my traditional leaders as I had been brought up, I went to the chiefs and said Madzimambo ndauya ndiri munhu ari kubva kuKaroi, ndiri kutsvaga nzvimbo yekugara. When I was given a farm, I continued to work with the communities surrounding me.

In 1999 when that community approached me to stand for them, I was a ZANU PF member to help them bring development in their area, I agreed. I have nothing against ZANU PF and I have nothing against the Government. I wanted to assist this Government but this political party did not accept me. They did not want me. They chased me.

The people pushed me forward to a party where there is no racism, where there is a free Zimbabwe. So from that day to this day from being the darling of ZANU PF, from being escorted by CIOs and police at every political meeting, I started being arrested. I do not want to go into what I have suffered in the last three years. I do not know what I have done to anybody on that side. Why do you hate me so much? What have I done? One day I pray to God you will never be subjected to the experience I have gone through. I hope you never will never experience the pain I have experienced. I hope for all your racial hatred, I forgive you, I have love. I do not have hatred, I only have love. I have love for my fellow Zimbabweans and I have love for my country and the development of my country.

I am absolutely shattered and ashamed to see what has happened to this country ever since the formation of MDC and what lengths you have gone to, to destroy a nation and it is the people that want you to serve them. Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would please like to read a summation of my legal answer.

MR. SPEAKER: I will grant you the permission to proceed.

MR. BENNETT: The other story which is totally untrue and unfounded – "Hon. Bennett did not show any remorse and even attempt to apologise both the Speaker and Hon. Chinamasa. Your Committee was not favoured with a reasonable excuse for that failure. Hon. Bennett held himself up as a hero of the event from the press statement he made thereafter and even from his testimony to your Committee." I have not seen a copy of this press statement and where was this press statement given? It was never produced as evidence to your Committee. It certainly appeared in hell. Where have I ever claimed to be a hero? I have always said I am embarrassed. I have never been proud of that. To this day, I am not proud of that.

("LEGAL SUBMISSION": Here Hon Bennett read out the Document presented to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee prepared by his Counsel, Advocate Eric Matinenga.)

It is submitted accordingly.

Before I proceed, Hon. Chinamasa remarked why I did not apologise before the Speaker. I came to see you in your office and I went to see the Vice President on the day that this occurred and we viewed that tape again to see the height of vitriol coming from Hon. Chinamasa’s mouth to say I will never set my foot at Charleswood Estate againI will go back to Parliamentary Report. There are two points which again state the issue. Hon. Mangwana said he was invited by your Committee to view the video clip of a speech by His Excellency the President where he alleged the President incited the people to arrest Bennett and his family. He had a very clear view of that video which was broadcast on ZTV. It said vanaBennett nanaDeKlerk should not have anything in this country and everything that they have should be taken. What have I ever done to the President?

Everything I own has been taken. When I moved from Chimanimani to live in Ruwa, the same thing happened, the army came, they beat the people and they looted the homestead.

They looted all the property from the farm. Two of my workers have been killed. The perpetrators walk free. There has been no investigation. Most of my female workers have been raped and their homes burnt. What course of justice have I had? I have been to the courts. The court granted me six court orders in my favour, of which Hon. Minister of Justice, sits in this House on top of those court orders and says Bennett will never set foot on his farm again, when these court orders granted me permission to be back there.

Besides all this hatred, harassment and vitriol, have I take the law into my own hands? Because I had approached highest echelons of the law to seek protection. I came to you Mr. Speaker and said please Mr. Speaker, assist me this is what is happening to me. You were aware. What did you do, Mr. Speaker? What have I ever done to you or anybody in this House? I was in good books with people of Zimbabwe and I cannot allow your hatred to consume me. It is impossible. For those amongst you where we had friendship, I thank you for that friendship. To my colleagues who I shared Parliament work with, I have nothing but pride to have been able to serve the people of my country. – (MR MUTASA : inaudible interjections). – VaMutasa, handiti takambotamba, tikafara, mukandikwazisa, tichiseka. Nhasi uno ndochema zvaita sei?

Hon. Speaker I am ready to go to jail. Sentence me. Thank you very much.

MR SPEAKER: Order, in terms of Standing Order Section 78 which reads as follows, "every member against whom any charge by way of motion has been made and whose conduct is under debate, having been heard in his/her place shall withdraw while such charge is under debate and shall take no further part in the proceedings."

In view of this provision, I have granted Hon Bennett the opportunity to say what he wishes to say in this august House before the House debates the issue. I now therefore request Hon. Bennett to withdraw from the Chamber while the debate continues in the Chamber.

Hon. Bennett withdraws from the Chamber.

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