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“Long Ride for Justice” - Namibia: The second leg of Ben Freeth’s journey


Blog 5: Friday 23 February 2024


Heading southwest, about 100km north of Grootfontein


Map of Namibia showing Grootfontein in the centre


I’m now about 100km north of the town of Grootfontein. Last night I stayed on a farm with Ben and Mariska, and the night before, with the du Plessis family. I'm learning that the hospitality of these Namibian farmers is just beyond compare!


With Stardust at Duppie and Andrea du Plessis’s farm gates


Stardust enjoying the lush grazing


My horse, Stardust, is being so well looked after and he's had very good grazing. People have come and dropped water off for him, and for me. It's been incredibly hot, into the 40s – that’s 40 degrees centigrade! Yesterday it was up to 41 or 42 for almost the whole day, so today I think is going to be the same, which means it’s very important to keep hydrated. These Namibian farmers have been so amazing, helping out in this regard, and I feel very blessed.


Stardust was a popular visitor to the du Plessis family farm


They’re also setting up some good meetings through their contacts, so that's fantastic for when I get to Windhoek. My current horse, Stardust, is getting tired as he’s not used to such long days, so I’m walking with him and arranging for another horse to take over.


This is a high rainfall area of Namibia, so there’s excellent grass for grazing, and on each side of the road there’s about 30 to 40 metres of long grass that’s already going to seed. However, the farmers tell me they are desperately in need of rain, especially the people who have crops in the ground at the moment. They’re only on about a quarter of their annual rainfall, so they have a long way to go.


It's wonderful to be among farmers who love the land, who are doing good things on it and farming productively. So it’s a great privilege after all these years of essentially ruination in Zimbabwe where farms just have been taken over and destroyed.


A destroyed centre pivot on a Zimbabwean farm – Photo credit Farmers’ Weekly


There have been many questions about what’s going on in Zimbabwe at the moment. I’ve explained that some white farmers are being allowed back onto the land, but under very difficult terms where they come onto farms and don’t have any security of tenure. They also have to pay rent to the person who took the farm illegally.


Understandably, the dispossessed farmers, who are the title deed holders, are very upset that so many of these farmers are not paying them rent as the legal owners of the farms. The real owner is the person who holds the title deeds of the property. He is also the one who put in all the infrastructure, cleared the lands, built the dams and roads, installed electricity points and pipelines, and erected the fences. In 99 percent of these cases, the farm owners have not been paid a cent in compensation by the government.


So this situation is problematic in Zimbabwe and is creating a lot of division. We need to sort this out. And farmers who have come onto the farms need to realise that they are on those farms illegally in terms of international law because the owner of that farm is still the title deed owner, and unless they have agreement with him, then they are acting wrongly and in bad faith. This is common decency. These are hard words I know, but it’s important that they understand this.


Insofar as my long ride/walk for justice is concerned, it is incremental, day by day, step by step. I’m confident that we will reach our destination on the 18th of March, and that this long ‘pilgrimage’ to the former seat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal court of justice will be fruitful. This is source from which justice should be flowing within the SADC region.


Walking with Stardust


I'm reminded all the time that God's throne is founded upon justice and righteousness and that where countries like Zimbabwe have abandoned the need for justice and righteousness, they always fail. So we need courts that are going to dispense justice and righteousness within the region. When this happens, we will see Africa start to thrive and grow and become the place it needs to be. All of the failure that we hear about continuously in Africa can be turned around into success stories which the world can marvel at. But without justice, this is a dream and will not happen.


So during this stage of the journey as I continue heading south towards Windhoek, I will be passed from one kind farmer to the next and will be further enriched by their wisdom and hospitality. I’m finding it a very humbling experience being in the hands of these wonderful Namibian people.


So with that, I would appreciate your prayers to just get through the heat and that the meetings being organised will be productive and will yield a result whereby justice is able to flow, and for the SADC Tribunal, our house of justice, to be reopened for the people, the 389 million people of southern Africa.


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.


Ben

Ben Freeth

Mobile: +263 773 929 138 (Zimbabwe)

Whatsapp: +44 7539 070 122 – limited mobile phone signal in parts of Namibia

 

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.

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