Founding Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett and his wife‚ Heather‚ died on Thursday in a helicopter crash in Canada.
News of the death started filtering through on social media as his colleagues in opposition circles confirmed the former Chimanimani member of parliament’s death.
MDC-T vice president Nelson Chamisa told The Zimbabwe Mail that the opposition has lost a gallant son who wanted to see a new Zimbabwe.
“He was a true democrat and really wanted to see the push for a free Zimbabwe‚” he said.
People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti took to social media to express his dismay.
“What a blow to our struggle. I can’t believe I will never speak to you again‚ Badze‚” he said‚ using one of Bennett’s nicknames.
A friend in political circles‚ David Coltart‚ described the Bennett’s as “two of Zimbabwe’s greatest patriots”.
Bennett was based in South Africa on political asylum‚ granted in 2007. During his time in exile‚ he played a role in activism for Zimbabwe‚ and particularly the MDC‚ in South Africa.
In 2006 he became the treasurer general for the mainstream faction of the MDC‚ led by Morgan Tsvangirai. He was also a spokesman in South Africa and made regular interviews on behalf of the MDC.
He returned to Zimbabwe in 2009‚ and Tsvangirai wanted him as deputy agriculture minister – but former President Robert Mugabe refused to swear him in.
He was later rearrested for treason‚ but then released. Afterwards‚ he left Zimbabwe for South Africa and never returned.