Tendai Biti's renewal team in serious financial challenge as Roy Bennet quits politics


DIVISIONS and deeply entrenched controversy are dragging the group of MDC rebels deeper into confusion, with key member, Roy Bennett having quit the project.

The News Leader can reveal that the former MDC treasurer general has taken many steps backwards, from active participation and interest in politics, dealing a body blow to the Biti-led group.

Our investigations show that Bennett has lost interest due to sharp differences between him and the leadership of the rebel group in Harare. It has also emerged that Bennett and his colleagues have had serious clashes over funds obtained from donor organisations and former Rhodesians.

Bennett had played a major role in setting up the rebellion against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The exiled farmer and former MP had used his links to former Rhodesians and white capital to wield a lot of influence and control in the rebel group.

Three individuals revealed to us that Bennett has recently taken a decision to step back.

"He told us that he has decided to concentrate on his personal and family life for now," an individual close to Bennett, who is based in Johannesburg said.

The source added that Bennett has moved into concentrating on farming activities.

"He is concentrating on his farming ventures based in Zambia," the source said.

We made repeated efforts to arrange an interview with Bennett but without success. He refused to even discuss about politics when we phoned him last week.

An MDC member based in SA, and who has been very close to Bennett, confirmed the quitting of the former MP for Chimanimani.

"He has stopped participating in the activities of the renewal team and told us that he is losing interest. It appears he had a serious fall-out with Biti and disagrees with the way things are being done by the team in Harare," the source said.

According to other sources, Bennett, who had played a major role in sourcing funding for the Biti group, became disgruntled by sustained reports of the rebel leaders in Harare being linked to Zanu PF and their project exposed as having been about 'destroying the MDC'.

Bennett is also reported to have disagreed with the move by the Biti group, of moving out of the MDC and claiming to be planning to form another party.

"Bennett told Biti at a stormy meeting in Johannesburg that trying to form another party would be a waste of time because it would remain under the shadows of the MDC led by Tsvangirai," a source said.

Bennett's desire, according to the source, had been to have the rebel group succeed in taking over the MDC after ousting Tsvangirai. The MDC rebel group emerged early this year claiming to be pushing for leadership renewal in the opposition party, but quickly turned their mission into a sustained plot aimed at ousting Tsvangirai unconstitutionally.

An ill-conceived coup attempt held in April at Mandel Training Centre in Harare backfired and led to the expulsion of the rebels from the MDC.

Their claims since then have been fraught with contradiction, confusion and controversy, including claiming to have taken over the MDC while also claiming to be forming a new party.

Sentiment towards the Biti group has gravitated towards suspicion over their links with Zanu PF, which the MDC rebels have revealed and confirmed variously.

Bennett was forced into exile after clashing with Zanu PF and facing treason charges. Sources say he recently became very livid after more signs of the Biti group's secret deals with Zanu PF emerged.

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