MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday expressed shock and grief over the death of Roy Bennett, the opposition party’s former treasurer-general, and his wife Heather in a helicopter crash in the United States.
“I have known the two since we formed the MDC in 1999 and they were resolute and steadfast in the struggle for democracy.
Pachedu, as we knew Roy, was a committed cadre, farmer and patriot who loved this country,” Tsvangirai said in a statement.
“It was for his patriotism that I appointed him Agriculture minister at the time of the inclusive government, but he was stopped from taking up the post by renegades who chose to see his race at the expense of his credentials as a patriot.”
Tsvangirai is currently in South African receiving treatment of cancer of the colon.
He said Bennett was a former MP and treasurer-general of the MDC who worked hard to instil a democratic dispensation in Zimbabwe and had left his own indelible footprints on the sands of this country’s struggle for democracy.
“Roy and his wife suffered a lot during the land reform programme, but they remained committed to this country and to the MDC and its values,” he said.
“The story of the MDC will never be fully told without the immense contribution of this committed Zimbabwean who loved this country.”
There was an outpouring condolence messages for the late MDC-T former treasurer general and his wife.
From fellow MDC-T officials, activists and other opposition parties, they all expressed shock and sadness at the passing-on of Bennett.
The majority took to social media to express their grief. Bennett served as the party’s MP for Chimanimani East constituency. His wife tried unsuccessfully to represent the same constituency after her husband.
In a statement, the MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said they were saddened by the loss.
“Roy was a resolute and committed fighter for democratic change in Zimbabwe. A founder member of the MDC, Roy was a charismatic and extremely popular grassroots mobiliser who easily connected with both senior and ordinary members of the party,” he said.
“Pachedu, as he was affectionately known, was a successful commercial farmer in Chimanimani. His work with the local farming communities in Chimanimani district is very well documented and he was also a renowned philanthropist who assisted hundreds of local villagers with school fees for their children and other necessary requirements to look after their families.”
Spokesperson of the Welshman Ncube led MDC, Kurauone Chihwayi said Bennett was a brave and dedicated cadre and leaves a deep void in the Zimbabwean community and the struggle to democratise the nation.
“As a dedicated democracy and freedom fighter, Bennett bore the brunt of the brutality of the Zanu PF despotic rule during the land-grabbing era when his family was severely assaulted at their farm by ruling party hooligans, leading to his pregnant wife’s subsequent miscarriage,” he said.