Saturday, May 27, 2006


So, South Africa has denied Roy Bennett political asylum. I see politicking in this case, if not outright racial discrimination by President Thabo Mbeki’s African National Congress (ANC) government.

From what I know of the United Nations’ definition of a Convention refugee or person in need of protection, Roy Bennett fits the bill of a consistently persecuted person.

The former Member of Parliament for Chimanimani personifies persecution of the opposition by the ruling Zanu PF and all its proxies. Right from President Robert Mugabe himself, his Security Minister, Didymus Mutasa and his Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), the army, the police, the government-leaning war veterans, the Zanu PF youth brigade (the Green Bombers), they have all had a go at Bennett.

Since he signed on and started campaigning for the Chimanimani seat in 2000, Bennett has suffered abuse ranging from verbal harassment, physical assault, imprisonment, destruction of property and seizure of the said property.

Yes, the trumped up charges, earlier this year, that he was part of a conspiracy to assassinate Mugabe (which is the primary reason he fled to South Africa), were dismissed. But does this disqualify him as a Convention refugee? I do not think so.

His problems have been well documented and publicized that it will be a waste of space and reading time to repeat them here.

This decision by South Africa has shown clearly that Mbeki and his government are really in support of the Zanu PF government, no matter how bad it gets. This explains Mbeki’s shilly-shallying over the issue of regime change in Zimbabwe. Its all about comrades in the armed struggle owing each other favours and Mbeki seems to be paying his dues.

The danger though is that this decision could be used as a precedent to deny other vulnerable asylum seekers because I cannot imagine anybody else being granted refugee status when Bennett has been denied.

I wish you good luck in your appeal, Roy, you need it.


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