Projects & activities that contribute towards solutions for the Zimbabwean crisis


Ben Freeth’s Column

Executive Director

There has been extensive media coverage of the Global Compensation Agreement signed by two farming organisations in Zimbabwe with the government of President Mnangagwa. The signing has been a very contentious issue that has generated significant debate on various platforms among dispossessed commercial farmers who lost everything during the violent farm takeovers, which began 20 years ago and still continue. 

Mr Mnangagwa’s government placed the farming organisations under considerable pressure to sign the agreement – and within a very short time frame - stating it was their last chance to receive a compensation offer from the government. A significant number of dispossessed farmers, many of them in dire straits financially, as well as being elderly and in poor health, signed up, despite only seeing a draft agreement as the final document was withheld.

In our opinion piece in SADC Tribunal Rights Watch provides brief background and the legal context amid mounting concern among farmers regarding the agreement, the unfolding government strategy and the implications.



Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd et al. v. Republic of Zimbabwe is a landmark test case decided by the SADC Tribunal. It held that the government violated the SADC treaty by denying court access and engaging in racial discrimination in the confiscation of land.




The SADC Tribunal was set up as a regional court to hear disputes between SADC member states and between individuals and states. The Tribunal was a court of last resort for those who had been denied access to justice in their own countries.



The Mike Campbell Foundation has initiated a court case which involves a group of dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers taking former South African President Zuma and the SA government to court for participating in the closure of the SADC Tribunal regional court.


The MCF took the courageous decision to use the law to focus on justice and legal accountability and to establish a workable legal foundation for property rights in Zimbabwe in the future. This has included a number of ground-breaking court cases


We provide practical conservation agriculture training to an average of 144 destitute farm workers and others in their communities each year, teaching them how to feed their families on just 1/16th of a hectare using our free open-pollinated seed.


The objective of our latest, well-attended conservation agriculture field day was to showcase our conservation agriculture activities and achievements – despite the ongoing drought conditions - in Harare and the Chegutu district of Zimbabwe. 


Our open-pollinated seed project provides free high quality seed that can be replanted each year to destitute farm workers and other needy people in Zimbabwe. In 2017, we distributed more than 4,500 seed packs followed by 8,000 in 2018.


In 2018, we paid school fees for 262 children of destitute farm workers and pastors, as well as tertiary fees for two students. For the first two terms of 2019, we paid school fees for 256 children and two tertiary students.


Faced with yet another food crisis and economic collapse due to the demise of agriculture, the solution is simple – and this is what the MCF is working towards: Title deeds must be allocated for all agricultural land and title to the commercial farmland must be restored.



There are many ways to help us through our various initiatives...



Successful land reform requires ownership

Land reform will only be successful if it changes patterns of land ownership. “The key word in [this] quote is ‘own’”, writes the Democratic Alliance party’s interim leader, John Steenhuizen. He notes that his party has consistently called on the South African government to release unused or underused state land for land reform. Although there is a stated option for lease beneficiaries to buy the land, government has in fact displayed a marked reluctance in the past to transfer ownership,” he says.  “Successful land reform ….promotes economic prosperity and food security.” 

Striking teachers’ pathetic salaries

A Zimbabwean lawyer, Doug Coltart, has claimed that it would take 542 years for teachers to earn money equivalent to what was looted by President Mnangagwa’s controversial spokesperson, George Charamba, who was also spokesperson for the late Robert Mugabe. Coltart who is the son of the former Minister of Primary and Secondary Education during the Government of National Unity, David Coltart, was basing his argument on a 2015 article by Zimbabwe Independent which claimed that Charamba pocketed US$228,000 from medical aid society PSMAS between 2009 and 2013 in board fees and allowances.

High Court orders release of MP Joanna Mamombe

In a surprising turn of events, High Court Judge Justice Esther Muremba on 7 October ordered the release from prison of Harare West constituency legislator Hon. Joanah Mamombe, where she had been incarcerated for close to two weeks on the orders of Magistrate Bianca Makwande. This was in response to an application for review and an urgent chamber application at the High Court filed by Mamombe’s lawyers on 25 September seeking a review of Magistrate Makwande’s decision to imprison Mamomb. They argued that her detention was unlawful and infringed her right to liberty provided in the Constitution.

Torture of MP Joanna Mamombe

Tony Reeler, a leading psychologist in Zimbabwe with more than 40 years’ clinical experience, including 30 years of working with the victims of organised violence and torture, reports on the secondary torture of the country’s youngest MP, Joanna Mamombe (27), in a moving article in the Daily Maverick titled “Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?” He notes that “abductees find themselves not only victims of terrible abuse, but charged themselves for offences (holding an illegal protest during Covid-19) … and, worse than this, charged with making false accusations about their abduction, torture and sexual assault.

Newsletter: Ben Freeth’s update on court cases and the crackdown

en Freeth reports from the Magistrate’s Court in Harare which he describes as the nerve centre for the labyrinth of darkness that has enveloped and overwhelmed Zimbabwe.  One of the accused is Joanna Mamombe, the youngest opposition MP who was abducted, severely tortured and is now deeply traumatised. She is accused of faking her own abduction. Ben describes driving through more than 60 road blocks manned by army and police bristling with guns. “Each rural town and community is now controlled by the army. Each police camp has perhaps 60 soldiers living in tents. The soldiers are very much in charge.”

Newsletter: Ben Freeth reports on crackdown

Ben Freeth arrived back in Zimbabwe six months after getting locked down in the UK and was immediately plunged into a time of crackdown - and curfew. He went directly to meet up with the award-winning international journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, and to show him some solidarity in the Magistrate’s Court after 45 days in the most unimaginable jail conditions. He also met with Tsitsi Dangarembga, an acclaimed novelist and on the Booker prize long-list this year, who had just been in prison for demonstrating peacefully. He also spent time with Advocate Fadzayi Mahere, the main opposition MDC-Alliance spokesperson.

AfriForum registers with UN

The civil rights organisation AfriForum, which has assisted the Mike Campbell Foundation with a number of court cases, has just received confirmation that this South African organisation is now officially registered with the United Nations (UN) as a non-governmental organisation with special consultative status. This status offers AfriForum various opportunities and privileges to continue its work on a much larger scale in the UN’s conference rooms. The breakthrough was made despite the South African government working actively for many years to deprive AfriForum of these opportunities.

Mnangagwa’s vision: a totalitarian state

In the three years since Mnangagwa usurped power from Mugabe, he has demonstrated an unrelenting willingness and zeal to achieve his vision of a controlled and pliable opposition. This much is evident in how he has shut down democratic space by using the military to kill protestors in cold blood and detaining political opponents and activists on spurious charges, writes Dr Alex Magaisa, a prominent Zimbabwean lawyer and constitutional expert. Dr Magaisa notes that Mnangagwa’s vision is a typically totalitarian state in which the ruling party controls virtually everything and the opposition plays a meaningless role. 

Militarisation of State has worsened

A Zimbabwe Democracy Institute study has found that militarisation has worsened in the post-Mugabe era. Citizens have been made to fear the military and the increasing  brutality of state security agents, thus being deterred from excising their constitutionally-given rights. The post-Mugabe dispensation government, led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has put much military pressure on the electoral process, freedom of protest and the media as key areas of military blockade to transition. It has also revealed that the military is the supreme power-bloc in transition politics as it has been a decisive player.

Ncube: Zim created fake US dollars

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has admitted in the High Court that the government created fake US dollars to cover indebtedness to local institutions. In his opposing affidavit in the matter between Duncan Hugh Cocksedge and CABS, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Minister of Finance, dated 20 July 2020, Ncube explained how and why the Government of Zimbabwe created fake US dollars. He said the banking sector was directed to separate customer accounts holding actual dollars of the United States of America from accounts holding created money which was not the currency of the United States of America.

Understanding ED’s political doctrine

Realistically, with Mnangagwa’s chequered past, he was never going to open and expand the democratic space, writes Zimbabwean political scientist Simukai Tinhu in Alex Magaisa’s Big Saturday Read. This is because freedoms not only meant that he had to deal with investigative journalists who disturbed his redistribution of state resources, or opposition leaders shouting, ‘’you are illegitimate in parliament’’, but more importantly, they risked knocking away a critical strut to the system that had brought him to, and was going to maintain him in power; his entente with senior military figures and ZANU-PF elites. 

50,000 job losses predicted

Zimbabwe’s formal sector is expected to shed over 50,000 jobs by year end amid a contracting economy as companies take a knock from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Business Times. The projected job losses come after various local firms have been trimming workers, and laying off temporary workers, to contain costs in the wake of suppressed revenue inflows. Prior to the lockdown, the economy was grappling with foreign currency shortages, power outages and El Nino-induced drought amid indications by a UN agency that over eight million Zimbabweans would be food insecure this year.

Advocate Thuli concerned re Zim crackdowns

South Africa’s highly respected former Public Protector and founder of The Thuma Foundation, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, says the Zimbabwean government needs to be called to account for the recent arrests of activists following anti-corruption protests in the country on 31 July 2020. Madonsela says President Emmerson Mnangagwa needs to explain his government’s actions to regional leaders. Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party lashed out at anti-government protests which led to the arrests of some prominent figures in the country. There has been widespread anger at the arrests and the numerous reports of torture.

Second SA envoy fails to meet opposition

A special delegation of the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s ruling party, met with Zimbabwe’s ZANU PF party in Harare on Wednesday 9 September 2020. Both parties like to refer to themselves as “liberation parties” although this is a clear irony in some cases where the parties have turned into oppressors of the people, writes respected commentator Dr Alex Magaisa. He points out that it made little sense for the high-powered delegation to travel all the way to Harare, just to meet with ZANU PF, the principal author of Zimbabwe’s problems, as was the case with an earlier SA envoy deployed in August. 

SA’s second mission to crisis-torn Zim

South Africa’s ruling ANC party is taking flak for not meeting anyone but the ruling Zanu-PF party during a second mission to Zimbabwe on 10 September 2020, but Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, who also heads the ANC NEC’s international relations subcommittee, is adamant that the party will go back to meet other stakeholders, notably opposition parties, civil society activists, NGOs and key diplomats. She said the ‘no holds barred’ meeting with Zanu-PF had been very worthwhile and brutally honest. The Platform of Concerned Citizens (PCC) is calling for a transitional authority to lead Zimbabwe out of its crisis.

Global Compensation Deed confusion

Zimbabwe’s ministers of land and finance issued a joint statement on the farm compensation issue on 31 August 2020, a month after the controversial signing of the Global Compensation Deed between the government and two farming organisations on 29 July 2020. The statement’s purported objective was to clarify the situation with regards to land tenure and compensation since there is a high degree of confusion, both locally and internationally, with regards to the agreement and the actual legality of the “deed”. However, the arrangements continue to remain opaque and are cause for mounting concern.

Another farmer, Martin Grobler, is evicted

A Zimbabwean commercial farmer has been evicted from his land  six weeks after the government announced a “compensation” deal with dispossessed white landowner organisations. Martin Grobler and his wife Debbie were given just hours to vacate their home by the new “owner”, Ivy Rupindi, an official from the lands ministry, who arrived with a sheriff, a court order and a lorry full of police. The fate of their 120 employees, planted fields and 250 head of cattle was thrown into doubt by the eviction which came as a “total shock”, Mr Grobler said. This is yet another example of the flouting of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

Torture, death claims without evidence

President Mnangagwa has accused civic society and the opposition of staging abductions to paint a bad picture of his government. Speaking during a virtual presentation on Covid-19 on 27 August 2020, Mnangagwa said: “The arbitrary arrests, death, torture in the country, all that is being stated without evidence.” However, human rights lawyer Kennedy Masiye said there was serious mistrust in government, hence people fear reporting abuses. “In January 2019 [when there were fuel riots], women were raped and the government said people should report. We all know what happens when people report.

Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on bail

Hopewell Chin’ono, the award-winning journalist and filmmaker held in a high-security prison for almost six weeks pending trial on charges of inciting violence, has been freed on bail. Chin’ono was arrested at his home in Harare in July after publishing a series of investigations into corruption in Zimbabwe. He has since been held in an overcrowded cell in Chikurubi jail on the outskirts of the capital, Harare. International concern has grown over the recent crackdown in Zimbabwe, during which between 50 and 100 opposition party officials, writers, labour activists and others have been arrested and often detained.

Renowned Advocate George Bizos tribute

Tributes are pouring in for renowned South African human rights lawyer, George Bizos, who passed away on 9 September 2020. Advocate Bizos was part of the team of lawyers who defended Rivonia trialists Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu (1963-1964). Advocate Bizos also defended Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic founder and leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who was acquitted of high treason in October 2004 for allegedly plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe, ahead of the country's presidential elections in 2002. The prosecution relied on evidence from a highly suspect witness.

Hwange mining:  heartfelt appeal

Blessing Munyenyiwa sends out a heartfelt appeal to President Mnangagwa on behalf of the Hwange stakeholders and all children of the soil of Zimbabwe to prevent mining of any form taking place in Hwange National Park and all national parks in Zimbabwe. The iconic Hwange National Park is the largest in Zimbabwe, boasting one of the most diverse arrays of flora and fauna in the world. It is not only a natural heritage for all Zimbabweans, but a natural heritage for the world.  It is one of the top tourist destinations in Zimbabwe and is located in close proximity to the world-renowned Victoria Falls.

Zim cancels mining contracts in Hwange

Bowing to intense pressure, the Zimbabwean government has cancelled mining concessions in the iconic Hwange National Park with immediate effect. This follows a public outcry and the threat of a court battle after President Mnangagwa’s government granted exploratory rights for coal to two Chinese companies, Afrochine Energy and the Zimabwe Zhongxin Coal Mining Group. One of the concessions incorporated two crucial dams, Deteema and Masuma, placing animals’ already strained ability to access water under threat due to ongoing drought conditions, including the parks impressive elephant herds.

The brutal legacy of Perrance Shiri and Gukurahundi– 19 August 2020 

The govt has issued a joint statement by the Ministers of Lands and Finance following the signing on 29 July 2020 of the Global Compensation Deed between the govt, two farming organizations and the Valuation Consortium. It notes that “those former farm owners who are indigenous Zimbabweans or citizens of countries which had ratified Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) or BITs with Zimbabwe at the time their land was compulsorily acquired for resettlement are entitled to compensation for both land and improvements. (The balance are only entitled to compensation for improvements).

Chinese miners put Hwange National park wildlife at risk

Conservationists in Zimbabwe are racing against time to prevent the government from allowing Chinese companies to start mining for coal in the pristine Hwange National Park, which hosts one of Africa’s biggest elephant populations. Lawyers lodged an urgent application in the High Court on 7 September to thwart exploratory drilling. Two Chinese companies have quietly been given special grants to operate, at the discretion of President Mnangagwa. Workers’ accommodation and roads to serve the mining areas are planned to be built close to the range of Hwange’s last remaining endangered black rhinos.

GOZ statement following signing of Global Compensation Deed

The govt has issued a joint statement by the Ministers of Lands and Finance following the signing on 29 July 2020 of the Global Compensation Deed between the govt, two farming organizations and the Valuation Consortium. It notes that “those former farm owners who are indigenous Zimbabweans or citizens of countries which had ratified Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) or BITs with Zimbabwe at the time their land was compulsorily acquired for resettlement are entitled to compensation for both land and improvements. (The balance are only entitled to compensation for improvements).

Perils of economic nationalism across Africa

Nigerian journalist Uddin Ifeanyi  writes that: “Almost without fail, what is advertised as an attempt to transfer resources from foreigners to nationals, as part of an economic empowerment programme, collapses into a programme of political patronage. In Uganda, Amin’s inner circle ― more fawning than competent ― got the pick of the newly liberated assets. In Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF hacks ― again, more brutal than competent ― took over the farms after their white owners had been forced out….. the white Zimbabwean farmers’ continued success across the border in Zambia mirrors the failure of the Zimbabwean economy. Read More 

Jailed journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is ill

Incarcerated award-winning international journalist, filmmaker and whistle-blower, Hopewell Chin’ono, whose ongoing detention in Harare’s notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison has sparked international outrage and concern, is reported to be ill with Covid-19 symptoms. After spending six weeks in remand prison applying for bail a record three times, Chin’ono on Monday 31 August sent a distress call to his lawyers that he was “seriously ill” and in need of urgent medical attention. His illness sparked fears that he may have been poisoned, a well-documented modus operandi of the brutal ruling party.

Abductee: “I felt the gun on the back of my head”

University student Tawanda Muchehiwa recounts his 3 days of hell at hands of Mnangagwa's shock troops. “I often wake up in the middle of the night sweating profusely with a pulsating headache. At that moment, I can feel intense pain on the right side of my jaw. I never get back to sleep. I have two incisions in my chest area, and two pipes – one inlet and an outlet. They are there for my next trip to a kidney dialysis facility…. I was threatened with death if I recounted that experience to anyone, but evil thrives on fear and my silence at this moment in the troubled life of our nation would be an act of complicity….”

Brave activist Dr Patson Dzamara dies

The Mike Campbell Foundation is devastated to learn of the death of a very brave Zimbabwean activist and opposition leader, Dr Patson Dzamara (34). Thrust into anti-government activism while searching for his missing journalist brother, Itai Dzamara, Patson succumbed to colon cancer just as well-wishers had raised money to get him into surgery. Itai, who was abducted from a barbershop in 2015, is still missing. Patson famously walked up to Mugabe at an Independence Day event in 2016 holding a placard that said “Independent but not free. Where is my brother Itai?” Patson a was whisked away by security guards and beaten.

US Ambassador: Widespread concern for Zim

The US is rallying the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to play a more assertive role in helping to solve the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. It is also urging President Mnangagwa to open dialogue with the opposition. Speaking for the first time since the ruling Zanu-PF called him a “thug”, US Ambassador to Harare Brian A Nichols, told TimesLIVE that South Africa was leading by example and could achieve success in bringing about change in its neighbouring country. Nichols said Zimbabwe had a three-pronged crisis: health care, food security and political turmoil. The statement from the AU was a very positive step.

Zim stuck without international funding

Zimbabwe is being forced into a corner by the refusal of multilateral lenders to lend it more money as it faces economic meltdown, according to the government’s top treasury official. “It’s very difficult to run the economy without any external support,” George Guvamatanga, the finance and economic development secretary, said in an interview. “You need a buffer to support you and without it that’s where the temptation to print money comes.” Shunned by multilateral lenders since defaulting on payments in 1999, Zimbabwe still owes $7.66 billion to various international financial institutions, including the World Bank.

Compensation via a sovereign bond a bad idea

The proposal to fund compensation for dispossessed white Zimbabwean farmers by issuing a sovereign bond is highly ambitious and not a good idea, writes Misheck Mutize, Lead Expert consultant with the AU - African Peer Review Mechanism . With an ailing economy, the country simply doesn’t have the resources to meet [this stated] commitment. Firstly, Zimbabwe does not have a sovereign credit rating from the three international credit rating agencies, without which it is impossible to successfully issue a sovereign bond on international markets because it’s a key input in determining yield and coupon payment on a bond.

SA pilot rescues Covid-stranded people with Air Zim plane

A “good news” story for a change: A resourceful South African pilot who moved to Canada and was retrenched from his new job as a result of Covid-19, has spent all his time under lockdown helping to organise repatriation flights for South Africans and Zimbabwean citizens left stranded in countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, and even the Maldives. Most recently, Myburgh secured a repatriation flight for 100 South Africans and a few dozen Zimbabwean students stranded for six months in Wuhan, China. To do this, he had to secure Air Zimbabwe’s only functioning aircraft and sort out the extensive red tape.

Beatrice Mtetwa banned from representing Chin’ono

Zimbabwe’s highly respected, award-winning human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, recognized internationally for her defense of journalists and press freedom, has been permanently barred from representing international journalist and filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono. Chin’ono was arrested at his home on 20 July 2020 and accused of supporting calls by Jacob Ngarivhume, leader of NGO Transform Zimbabwe for a planned protest against corruption on 31 July 2020. He is also being victimized for running an exposé of a US$60-million Covid-19 procurement scandal by Drax International, a company allegedly linked to the first family. 

Zim Catholic Bishops’ Conference speaks out on crisis

Deeply concerned about the escalating crisis and dire conditions countrywide, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference has published a pastoral newsletter condemning the situation. “Following the government crackdown on dissent after the 31 July demonstrations ….. some of our people continue to live in hideouts, with some incarcerated while others are on the run. Fear runs down the spine of many of our people today. The crackdown on dissent is unprecedented. Is this the Zimbabwe we want? To have a different opinion does not mean to be an enemy. It is precisely from the contrast of opinions that the light comes. 

Writers and priests arrested in Zimbabwe’s ‘unprecedented’ crackdown

Writers and priests have been arrested in Zimbabwe’s ‘unprecedented’ crackdown, writes award-winning journalist and author Christina Lamb. More than 60 people have been picked up but many more are on the run while others find themselves unable to operate because of endless court appearances on spurious charges. A hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter has been trending on social media to try to alert international attention. But Mnangagwa shows no sign of stopping the repression. “Bad apples who have attempted to divide our people and weaken our systems will be flushed out,” he warned in an address on state television. 

Author Tsitsi Dangarembga: Starvation looms

A week that began with a career high for Tsitsi Dangarembga, Zimbabwe’s most acclaimed novelist, a nomination for the Booker Prize, ended with her in a police cell for protesting the country’s descent into tyranny. Her arrest typified the progressively brazen onslaught being waged by President Mnangagwa’s regime against its critics. She does not believe it a stretch to imagine the rife starvation seen in Ethiopia in the mid-Eighties recreated in Zimbabwe, southern Africa’s former breadbasket. The UN has warned of a “rapidly expanding emergency” in which two thirds of the population, will be famished by Christmas.

Comments on farm compensation issue by Angus Selby, Part 2

Further to Angus Selby’s comments on the proposals regarding compensation discussed with the Zimbabwean government, he has written a second opinion following the signing of the deed / Global Compensation Agreement on 29 July 2020. Concerns include the fact that the final deed does not include the relevant conditions precedent and safeguards suggested by dispossessed farmers, legal experts and property experts etc, notably USD payment outside Zimbabwe, no further taxes or levies, a clear escape clause with reasonable timeframe for non-performance and authority of this deed v statutory law.

Comments on farm compensation issue by Angus Selby, Part 1

With nearly two decades of experience in the global agricultural sector, Angus Selby has a vast array of knowledge and expertise to draw on with respect to the issue of compensation for dispossessed farmers in Zimbabwe.  Furthermore, he was born and raised on a family farm in northern Zimbabwe and has had a passion for agriculture and farming his entire life. Approached for advice by numerous farmers expressing mounting interest but also concern about the recent developments, notably the pressure to sign, the worrying lack of clarity and legal concerns, he has written two opinions for farmers – this is the first one.  




"What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Micah 6 v 8

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