Bennet finally in the dock

TENSIONS: Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe. 17/02/09. © Unknown.
TENSIONS: Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe. 17/02/09. © Unknown.

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his arch rival Morgan Tsvangirai sat at Zimbabwe's cabinet table for the first time as ministers of the new unity government held their inaugural meeting.

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his arch rival Morgan Tsvangirai sat at Zimbabwe's cabinet table for the first time as ministers of the new unity government held their inaugural meeting.

The historic cabinet session on Monday in Harare's city centre lasted about two hours.

"The cabinet meeting is over. President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai attended," Tsvangirai's spokesman James Maridadi said.

The session came as Tsvangirai's choice of deputy agriculture minister, Roy Bennett, was in court on charges the MDC insists are trumped up.

The 52-year-old farmer and former lawmaker was arrested last Friday shortly before his colleagues were sworn in to serve the new cabinet. He was initially charged with treason, but the charge was later changed to attempting to commit terrorism, banditry and sabotage and conspiring to acquire arms.

Bennett's lawyer said that his client had been slapped with fresh charges.

"They are bringing new charges against him, we are told. These charges deal with possession of firearms and weapons. These are imaginary charges. We are waiting to hear them," he said.

The MDC said that it was "inconceivable" that Bennett's nomination for office would be withdrawn.

"The earlier that is accepted, the earlier the inclusive government can get down to the real work," the MDC said. - Sapa-AFP

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