Mugabe's security agents key witnesses in Bennett's trial

“The trial date has been put on November 9 and we have been given a list papers with names of witnesses most them are state security agents and police officers,” said Bennett’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.

She said the star witness appears to be Peter Michael Hitschman but would not say for certain if he is going to take the lead role.

“The star witness appears to be Hitschman but we will know when the trial starts,” said Mtetwa.

The other witnesses lined up are Ronald Muderedzwa, former officer commanding Manicaland province, Michael Joseph Nyakatama, a central intelligence agent (CIO), Sipho James Makore, a police officer, Arnold Zorodzai Dliwayo, police officer, Francis Cole a specialist firearms police central investigations department (CID) officer and Panganai Mugejo who works for the defence ministry among others.

Bennett is facing charges of being found illegally in possession of weapons with the intention to commit insurgency, sabotage, terrorism, and banditry.

The charges are punishable by a death penalty or life in prison.

Bennett was last week indicted by a Mutare magistrate and detained in prison. The decision was however overturned by High Court Judge Charles Hungwe who reinstated his bail. He was granted bail in March by Supreme Court. He will be prosecuted by the controversial Attorney General, Johannes Tomana. Tomana is part of the outstanding issues that the MDC wants resolved in the inclusive government. The party accuses him of persecuting its members of parliament on trumped up charges.

Meanwhile Bennett says he will not quit politics to please President Robert Mugabe.

Bennett, who has become a jail bird, over the past years due to his fight for democracy, said he will only consider quitting only when democracy is established in Zimbabwe or if the people of Zimbabwe say he should.

“It is part of the struggle and standing up for what is right. I have to be annoying someone so much for that persecution to continue. I have to say it must be Robert Mugabe himself,” said Bennett in an interview with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) weekly newsletter.

“He has serious issues with me and has serious racial problems. The fact that I have a constituency and that I have a following annoys him immensely, he would want to discredit me and get me out of the way.”

“Part of the persecution against me is not against me personally but it is against the MDC because I stand for the party in everything I do. I am happy to step aside the moment the people say I am the problem,” said Bennett. “I am here for as long as I can serve my country, my people and my party to the best of my ability. I am here until we achieve the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe.”

“I have often thought of quitting and it is an easiest thing to do, by the way. But if you have a constituency you have stood in front of and together you have suffered, there is no easy walking away from that constituency, so basically I am here until we return democracy and freedoms to Zimbabwe.”

The MDC believes Bennett is being persecuted for being MDC and for being white. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced the party’s boycott of the inclusive government last week in protest of the oustanding issues that include Bennett’s case, that still have to be solved, eight months after the new government was put in place in February after a Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediation. He is currently on a tour of the region to brief leaders about the current crisis in Zimbabwe. Radio VOP