Zimbabwe High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu is pressing ahead with a US$1 million suit against exiled politician Roy Bennett of the Movement for Democratic Change wing led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and against Britain's Guardian paper.
Bhunu says the MDC treasurer defamed him when he told the Guardian that he expected the judge to find him guilty in a 2009 terrorism trial, arguing that Bhunu was a ZANU-PF apologist and a recipient of a farm given through political patronage.
Bhunu later acquitted Bennett on charges he plotted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe in 2006 during a presidential visit to eastern Mutare city.
Bennett’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, said she was served with the litigation papers this week, which now cite the Guardian and British journalist David Smith.
“The Judge, through his new lawyer, Mr. Mtizwa of Chihambakwe and Mtizwa, has applied to join as parties to the court action the Guardian newspaper and Mr. David Smith - who they say is the journalist they claim Roy gave an interview to in Zimbabwe,” Mtetwa said.
Speaking from exile in London, Bennett said he will not be returning to Zimbabwe to defend himself against Bhunu’s suit as he fears further persecution.
He said: “There is selective application of the law. Look at Solomon Madzore the MDC youth chairman. How many times has he come up for bail? He is sitting in prison. Where is the power within the MDC and the MDC in government to help him? He is rotting in prison. Who can help him?”
“I have already spent more than nine months of my life in prison. I have lost everything I own in Zimbabwe. I have been persecuted in every single manner. What guarantees are there that I will have any justice whatsoever in view of us going into an election?"
Bennett, a former legislator, was sent to prison under a bill of attainder passed by the Parliament after he shoved Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa in a 2003 debate.