'Military junta' rules Zimbabwe, says MDC's Bennett

Roy Bennett - 9 November 2009
Image caption Mr Bennett said Mr Mugabe was being forced to continue as president by his generals

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is little more than the front man for a military junta, a leading white politician has told the BBC.

Roy Bennett said Mr Mugabe remained in office thanks only to a clique of generals who are enriching themselves.

Mr Bennett was acquitted in May on charges of plotting to overthrow Mr Mugabe, but prosecutors are appealing.

He has not yet taken up his post as deputy agriculture minister. His MDC party sees the charges as political.

Mr Bennett told the BBC's southern Africa correspondent, Karen Allen, that the outcome of the appeal against him depended on what orders the judiciary received from the "military junta ruling the country".

Mr Bennett is a senior member of Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is in a unity government with Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

The power-sharing deal was reached after an acrimonious 2008 election, and has helped end the hyper-inflation that had wrecked Zimbabwe's economy.

Mr Bennett said Mr Mugabe had accepted that he lost the election but "it was this military junta that forced him to continue".

He said: "I honestly believe that Robert Mugabe, half the things that are going on he has no idea about."

Zimbabwe's generals were enriching themselves through patronage, Mr Bennett said, and would not loosen their grip on power.

"They have created huge wealth illegally. They have the power through the barrel of a gun.

"This junta will not allow power to be released for the sake of hanging onto that power and wealth that they hold now."

Mr Tsvangirai has said Mr Bennett would be sworn into office when the case against him is finally concluded.

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