Ben Freeth’s Column

Executive Director

In Ben Freeth’s column, after attending a thought-provoking speech day, he reports on the remarkable Falcon College experience, with its focus on strong morals and integrity, which has shaped so many exceptional leaders over the years. “I have often wondered if there is such a thing as a soul in a place, or a name, or an institution. Having had our boys studying at Falcon College, out among the rocky Matabeleland hills and thorn trees in Zimbabwe over the last 8 years, I have become convinced that such a thing is very real. The soul of Falcon is something incredibly motivating and powerful.” READ MORE

THE SADC TRIBUNAL CAMPBELL CASE

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.

SADC

TRIBUNAL

TIMELINE 

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.

COURT CASE: 

COMPENSATION CLAIM 

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.

COURT CASES JUSTICE & LEGAL ACCOUNTABILITY

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

CONSERVATION  AGRICULTURE TRAINING

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.

CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE FIELD DAY

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. 

OPEN-POLLINATED SEED PROJECT

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.

SCHOOL FEES PROJECT

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.

FOOD CRISIS SOLUTION

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.

Profits from the sale of my book

Outskirts of His Glory

will go towards The MCF’s Zimbabwe School Fees project

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China donates new parliamentary building

With China’s help, a new complex is taking shape on the outskirts of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, as Beijing deepens its influence in Africa. A US$140 million six-storey parliament building is being constructed on Mount Hampden, about 18km (11 miles) northwest of Harare. Sitting on the top of a hill, the imposing circular complex being erected by China’s Shanghai Construction Group is fully paid by Beijing, which regards the gesture as a “donation”. The Chinese deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zhao Baogang, says the building is important in the decolonization of Zimbabwe. It is expected to be completed by March 2021.

Former agric minister Denis Norman dies

Zimbabwe’s first minister of Agriculture, Denis Norman, has died in Oxfordshire in the UK. He was part of the then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s inaugural cabinet reportedly at the suggestion of the late Lord Soames. Norman was one of Rhodesia’s best known farming leaders and for number years he was an admirer of Mugabe. However, he told journalist Trevor Grundy that he had been devastated by “those terrible farm invasions in 2000  . . . obviously they broke my heart. What I tried to achieve over two decades fell to pieces. I was devastated.” His book, titled Odd Man In, is published by Jacana Media.

No going back on Zim dollar

In a New Year message to the nation, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa told Zimbabweans to “defend and protect” the country’s currency from collapse in 2020 but insisted there will be no re-introduction of other currencies. The Zimbabwe dollar, which is not recognised outside the country’s borders, was one of the worst-performing currencies in the world in 2019 after it plunged from 1:2.50, when it first started formal trading in February this year, to 1:15 on the interbank market. It’s even weaker on the black market, which is popular with most Zimbabweans, where it trades at 1:20 with the US dollar.

Teachers to down tools over low salaries

Members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) say they have informed the government about their intentions to stay home when schools open on January 14, 2020 due to low salaries and poor working conditions. Teachers are currently earning less than US$200 per month in a nation with an estimated hyperinflation rate of up to 450 percent. Parents are also feeling the pinch of hyperinflation saying they have no money to send their children to school and can’t afford to purchase uniforms and stationary. At one school for example, the fees have been increased from Z$160 Zimbabwe dollars to Z$888.

VP’s wife, “murder plot” and missing US$2m

How did a civil servant-turned vice president manage to squirrel away nearly US$2m? And did his estranged wife really try to murder him? Zimbabwe is abuzz after the arrest of Mary Mubaiwa.

 

The arrest last week of Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s estranged wife, Mary Mubaiwa, has sparked widespread debate in the country, with many suggesting it could open a can of worms as it exposed how some politicians have been enriching themselves at the expense of the people.

Will Boris Johnson stand up for Zim farmers:

After a year of peace and plentiful rain, my farm in Kenya is fantastic. Peace, rain — leave a farmer alone and he can just get on with growing food for Africa. So my thoughts are with my fellow farmers Gary and Jo Hensman, both in their seventies, who last month were chased off their property by thugs in Zimbabwe. Two decades after Mugabe began his disastrous farm invasions this story has gone entirely unnoticed by the world — but November was a busy month for Zim.

Empowerment better than cash aid

Villagers in the Matobo District in southern Zimbabwe are not convinced that giving people a small and steady stream of cash with no strings attached may be the smartest way to address poverty. A mother of six children says cash aid implicitly rewards poverty and encourages families to remain poor. “The most important kind of aid empowers us to grow our own food and earn some income on our own,” she says. These villagers want training and the means of accessing water so that they can grow their own crops and vegetables – and sell the surplus.

Commission of Inquiry reveals massive urban land fraud

The Commission of Inquiry into the sale of State land in and around urban areas since 2005 (the year that Mugabe’s infamous Operation Murambatsvina took place) has unearthed massive fraud and theft of State land valued at US$3 billion by top politicians and individuals in Zanu PF in connivance with corrupt local government officials. In his 11-page summary, Commission leader Justice Uchena noted: “The identification and occupation of State land in urban centres (include) complex issues that involved farm invasions, abuse of political offices in allocation and use of top ZANU PF political to exert undue influence on govt institutions.”

British ambassador to Zim meets with VP Chiwenga

British ambassador to Zimbabwe Melanie Robinson held a meeting with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, where she expressed Britain’s commitment to assisting Zimbabwe deal with chronic food shortages in the country. Briefing journalists after the meeting, she said although Zimbabwe had made progress in implementing political and economic reforms, Britain was concerned about what Robinson called some ‘backward steps” the government was taking. She said the UK was providing £49 million (US$64.5 million) for the food situation and a further £5 million (US$6.57) to help prevent a cholera outbreak.

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"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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