Blog 1: Friday 2 February 2024
From Ngoma Bridge border post heading west along Namibia’s Caprivi Strip
Ben has embarked on this epic ride through western Zimbabwe and west across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, then down to Windhoek to raise awareness of a travesty of justice in Zimbabwe and the subsequent fallout for the entire southern African region. This was the closure of the regional court of justice, the Southern African Development Community’s SADC Tribunal, in 2012. Ben’s objective is to raise the profile of the need to have the SADC Tribunal reopened and to publicly deliver a letter to the SADC Tribunal office in Windhoek, the Namibian capital, as well as to the SADC Secretariat.
Map of Namibia showing the Caprivi Strip – Credit: Amusing Planet
Map of the Caprivi Strip in north eastern Namibia – Credit: Expert Africa
I’m now heading west again, always west, with my Namibian mule, who I’m calling “Nikao”, which means “to overcome” in Biblical Greek. We’re currently heading along the Caprivi Strip which is a long strip of land in the north-eastern part of Namibia.
An early start with my intrepid mule, Nikao
The first leg of my journey: On the first section of my unpublicised journey, I began walking and riding west with my horse on 28th November last year, journeying west across Zimbabwe from Mount Carmel farm in the Chegutu district. This was the date on which Mike Campbell, my father-in-law, received the SADC Tribunal judgment back in 2008. We, at that time, were absolutely overjoyed; it was the most incredible day when finally justice was being served.
We had this internationally recognised regional court of justice, the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s highly respected Tribunal that was not captured – as is the case with Zimbabwean courts – but was able to see things dispassionately and was able to make a judgment that was final and binding.
The Tribunal held that the Zimbabwe Government violated the SADC Treaty by denying access to the courts and engaging in racial discrimination against white farmers, whose lands had been confiscated under the land reform programme in Zimbabwe.
But President Mugabe unfortunately had other ideas and he ignored the court and threw us off the farm very violently. He also managed to dismantle the court so that the 389 million people in southern Africa were denied access to their court of last resort, when justice systems failed them in their own countries.
15th Anniversary of SADC Tribunal court case judgment
This is now the 15th anniversary of the court case and the judgment. So, I started from the farm and will continue going west and then eventually southwest until I reach the SADC Tribunal building because I believe it’s very important that we do not allow courts to be closed by dictatorial regimes, depriving countries of justice. God’s very throne, we read in the Psalms, is founded on justice and righteousness.
The SADC Tribunal building in Windhoek, Namibia
And so, as I walk, I pray: I pray for justice, I pray for righteousness, I pray for rain, I pray for the people of Zimbabwe and of all of southern Africa.
And I pray that the God-given potential in every individual can be realised through justice prevailing within the region. So, after Zimbabwe’s very flawed elections on 23 August 2023, I pray for true leaders who won’t destabilise courts, corrupt opposition parties and close down the democratic space, denying people from realising their God-given potential.
Moving through Zimbabwe after 28 November was an incredibly humbling experience. I met the poorest of the poor and went through drought-affected areas, where many of the rural people’s cattle were dying. I realised that these people had been prevented from improving their circumstances, as they had no title deeds.
Without title deeds, they have no security of tenure. They cannot finance the building of houses or invest in such necessary aspects of farming as irrigation.
So, I will continue, heading west, and give updates here and there where a mobile phone signal is available and where the battery on my phone allows this. But I appreciate all your prayers for this mission to establish justice.
My horse on the Zimbabwean leg of the journey was called “Tsedequ” which means “justice and righteousness” in ancient Hebrew. And now on the Namibian leg of the journey I have a mule I’ve named “Nikao” which, as mentioned earlier, means “to overcome” in Biblical Greek.
So, we need to overcome injustice and the unjust challenges that we have had to face. This is the aim of my “Long Ride for Justice”. Your prayers for justice and for my journey will be appreciated. It’s going to be dry and long, and it’s going to be hard!
Heading west with Nikao
To read the introduction and objectives of my “Long Ride for Justice”, as well as my regular blogs, click HERE
My sincere thanks to you all and I’ll keep you posted.
Whatsapp: +44 7539 070 122 – limited mobile phone signal in parts of Namibia
Mobile: +263 773 929 138 (Zimbabwe)
Ben Freeth is the executive director of the Mike Campbell Foundation and is based in Zimbabwe. The MCF is taking action to restore human rights, justice, the rule of law and property rights for all in Zimbabwe.