RESTORING JUSTICE – RESTORING PEOPLE

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Projects & activities that contribute towards solutions for the Zimbabwean crisis

NEWS FROM ZIMBABWE

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.
 

OUR WORK

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.

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FEATURED ARTICLES

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, Gukurahundi rapist and murderer – 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.  

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Micah 6 v 8

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