Farmers fighting for their Rights

Farmers fighting for their Rights


WINDHOEK - WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN THE COURTROOM

 
There has been a heap of misinformation dished out in Zimbabwe as to what took place in Windhoek. Here is what really happened: -

 

We had been told to be in Court at 9.30 am on Wednesday morning 16 July and things started happening right then. In this courtroom there are five Judges who sit in high backed chairs right at the back in a line facing the court. In the next tier in front of them and a little less elevated sits the Registrar and one other who is the Clerk of Court. They also face in the same direction as the Judges.

 

Before them, also in a line but this time facing towards the Judges, sit the front rank of the lawyers who are to argue the case. Those for the Applicant lay claim to the left hand side and those for the Respondent the right hand side. Campbell’s front rankers were Elize Angula, a partner in Lorentz Angula which firm acts as Mike’s Namibian lawyers; next to her Adrian de Bourbon who assists and sits next to Jeremy Gauntlett who presents the case. Only a couple of seats away from Jeremy was seated Mr. Prince Machaya Zimbabwe’s deputy Attorney General, who in similar fashion to Jeremy Gauntlett presented the government’s case. Next to Mr. Machaya sat his assistant deputy Attorney General – Civil, a Mrs. Maxwell, and next to her the Deputy Attorney General – Crime J Tomana who doubles up we are told as Mayor of Bindura. Next to him initially sat the lawyers for the squatters G Mlotshwa and F Mutamangira seeking, in spite of the judgement handed down after the last hearing which told them they couldn’t, to join with the Zimbabwe government as co-Respondents.

 

In the next row towards the back of the court sit the attorneys Dave Drury, Josephat Tshuma and Alex Masterson who all prepared the initial papers together with Zach Freeth and his son Ben. On the second day Josephat Tshuma was accompanied by lawyer Grayson Inyoni who hails from Bulawayo but is now practising in Windhoek. He owns a farming property on the outskirts of Bulawayo which like that of everyone else has been thieved. On their right sit the assistants to the attorneys for the government team and a lady complete with Nigerian style turban clutching a book on the Selous Scouts in which on about page five she kept storing her pen. We were told she is the Zimbabwe Ambassador to Namibia. In the final row sit reporters and the sound engineer who plays cards on his computer when not checking the sound waves of his microphones. There is indeed a good view from the gallery.

 

As things were due to start, the Registrar gathered together two lawyers each from the Applicant’s and Respondent’s teams and Mlotshwa and Mutamangira who were hoping to put the case for the squatters to ally themselves with government and by so doing delay the main hearing for ever. They were traipsed off together to a room off the passage to the main court building set aside for lawyers and were given the sad news that there was going to be no muscling in by Mlotshwa and Mutamangira representing Nixon Chirinda on Conrad van der Merwe’s farm sub division one of Reinfield in Makonde district with 342 others. They were told to pack their bags and go. Somewhat crestfallen, they did just that to the merriment of some of us in the public gallery.

 

Then, in walked the Judges and the Judge President stated that they were to proceed with the main case. Jeremy Gauntlett asked if this was case 2A, the urgent application (the Contempt of Court application which was shown first on the Court Roll). He was again told that it was the main hearing that was to be heard.

 

There was a quick bit of re-arranging of papers, and Jeremy began his presentation. Here we need a little amplification. There are two types of hearings, those that have evidence led by hearing and questioning verbal evidence from various witnesses who appear in person, and those which have all the evidence recorded in affidavits stored in the “bundles” of papers presented to the Court. It was this last type of case that was before the Tribunal, and both parties had previously agreed that no witnesses would be called to amplify anything. This made nonsense of the Herald’s clarion assertion that ex-Minister Mutasa was to appear in Court. He didn’t, nor could he have done so other than as a spectator.

 

The approach by Jeremy was that he would make his way through his Heads of Argument, highlighting the points he wished to emphasize. This he did in depth in a crisp and succinct presentation which glared out and dared the Respondent to refute anything he said. Adrian de Bourbon then argued his way through the aspects of compensation pointing out that it was an essential and very necessary part of acquisition. Then the now quite recognisable and predictable Mr. Prince Machaya stood up and took his turn to try and interest and sway the minds of the Judges. Apart from suggesting that the requirements of the Treaty were merely guidelines for the countries in the region and not binding, Mr. Machaya had little else of substance to say. Predictably, he had little choice but to ramble on with Zanu PF’s well known political justifications to try and give credibility to all sorts of abominations. Farmers have heard this sort of drivel so often from all those doing the party’s bidding that they now refer to it as “the history lesson”. It didn’t have much impact on the Judges as it has nothing to do with law, and they seemed to lose concentration slightly and began a little of the eyes rolling and gazing at the ceiling routine.

 

Then it was Jeremy Gauntlett’s turn to reply and comment on what Mr. Machaya had said. Well, Jeremy whacked it a little differently. We really enjoyed one of his observations on the discrimination aspect. Not only had the Respondent discriminated in the taking of the farms he said, they had done it again when they dished them out to their cronies. Any white skin lost out on both occasions. He helped coach his antagonist on how he could improve his future deliveries by reminding him of the numerous points he had left out or glossed over but should have countered in some way. He was very polite and at the same time very cutting. He cut him up worse than the thugs had cut up the Campbells and Ben Freeth. In fact he was so nasty we began to feel sympathy for this poor man who had to sit there and endure abject humiliation. There was no more of the eyes rolling/ceiling gazing by the Judges. They were enthralled.

 

Thus ended the first day Wednesday. There was no doubt that justice was in the making.

 

The next day dawned, but as we sat around the breakfast table none of us knew the drama and delight that this day would bring. It began with a request by a young lady to be driven at 8.00 am to the historical Turnhalle which now houses the SADC Tribunal and its offices. This young lady is part of the documentary movie making team and felt that a personal approach to the Tribunal Registrar, Judge Mkandawire from Zambia, might have more success in obtaining permission to film in the Courtroom than those made previously. And she was right! Justice Mkandawire realised the importance of this landmark case for both the Tribunal and for SADC. It had to be shown that the whole procedure was beyond reproach by both parties and the outside world. There could be no grounds for later criticism of the final judgement. The movie makers were given what turned out to be a fantastically flexible five minutes of filming time to capture the essence of the proceedings on condition they stayed put in the far corner. Oh joy! oh rapture! – but they just didn’t realise the ramifications of what Mkandawire had authorised, nor what their celestial scriptwriter had lined up for them on that day!

 

So, on the second day in Court the Judge President began by asking if there were any points that had arisen the previous day which needed clarification. There were none so he said the Court would then hear the “Urgent Application”. This application would be more recognisable to the layman as a hearing to establish “Contempt of Court” in that the Tribunal ordered that Campbell and 74 of the 77 Joinders with him should be left in beneficial and unfettered occupation of their properties, unhindered in any way by state agents and their thugs. They weren’t, and this led to the Urgent Application which as we explained in the previous newsletter it was not possible to hear immediately.

 

Then things became a bit American Soap Opera-ish. Jeremy rose and began with due decorum to deliver his presentation. He had only got a couple of words in when up jumped Mr. Machaya rudely interrupting the proceedings. Jeremy looked more than a little surprised, displaying too by his body language a smattering of extreme annoyance. Jeremy is not the sort of fellow who puts up with wayward behaviour. Mr. Machaya was finding it difficult to accept that things in Windhoek were not proceeding as they had decided in Harare they should, so he proceeded to lambaste the Bench telling them that he couldn’t see any need for the Urgent Application to proceed now that the main hearing had already been dealt with. When the Judge President re-iterated that they were to hear the contempt application Mr. Machaya lost his senses and went so far as to demand of the Judges that they should give an explanation of their behaviour.

 

Then Jeremy stepped in, pointing out the monstrous impudence of the Zimbabwe government’s lawyer (and by inference that of his principal). The Judge President kept his cool, merely saying that the hearing would proceed. So Jeremy gets up on his pins again and opens his mouth only to find Machaya has beaten him to it again. Now the threats start to roll and Jeremy, who heaven forbid we should refer to as a peeping tom, detected the desperation in Machaya and had a quiet squiz at his paperwork on the desk a mere two seats away. There clearly wasn’t any! For the shrewd Gauntlett this demarcated the exact spot where the next blow from the boot was to land. Immediately we recalled how on two previous occasions the Judges had we thought too easily acceded to demands for postponements and back then we had the suspicion they were setting the Respondent up in a trap. And now the Respondent had swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Like an errant schoolboy the Respondent had omitted to do his homework because the lies given twice before could definitely not fail to work again!

 

So Jeremy put the boot in yet again and emphasised the facts. The Respondent had had ample time to prepare, he had received his set of papers thirty days before and had even responded, but the Zimbabwe Government had not bothered to do anything about opposing the allegations other than ask for more time to do so. He asked for the hearing to continue. The Judge President concurred with everything that Jeremy had said and declared that the application for postponement was just another delaying tactic. He ordered the hearing to proceed. Now Machaya’s desperation deteriorated into abject despair and he pulled his last card from the pack. He stated that he needed to consult with his principal back in Harare and asked for an hour’s postponement. The Judges, after consulting amongst themselves, reluctantly gave thirty minutes.

 

Now our movie maker whose watch had long since stopped saw the drama in the making. So, with sound engineer, complete with furry microphone hanging from extended boom in tow, he lugged his camera out on to the outside walkway and proceeded to film the Zimbabwe lawyers huddled together with the Zimbabwe Ambassador (the Selous Scout history lesson book no longer quite so prominent) all desperately working on cell phones which were rapidly getting red hot. Mlotshwa, the gentleman lawyer of Rydings school and the missing $800 million fame, immortalised himself on camera and soundtrack by refusing any filming. After the allowed thirty minutes we all returned and the drama unfurled a little more.

 

The government of Zimbabwe, said Machaya, took this case very seriously. So much so that they had instructed him to demand a postponement so that affidavits and other evidence could be gathered to present to the Tribunal. This would prove that it was mere criminals who had committed the Contempt. The Zimbabwe Government was “not the one”. It would be unfair to hear the matter unless they were given further time and the interests of justice and fair play would not be served. This submission we had heard before often – in fact it was beginning to rival “the history lesson”. The patient Judge President again pointed out that the Respondent had had ample time to prepare their submissions and he was going to hear the matter anyway.

 

The trap was sprung. Machaya continued with his patter that unless they were granted an extension of time there was no alternative but to refuse to take part in the proceedings. That would have made the point and he and his entourage could have sat down and looked snooty, but before he had even finished his statement our Ambassador (if that word also covers the female of the species) and the rest of their team had upped sticks and were striding out of the Courtroom. That sneaky movie maker, whose five minutes only time machine was now working double time overtime, faithfully in the interests of fair play and justice too, recorded the whole walk out – and Mlotshwa this time forgot to tell him “no filming”!

 

So now Machaya was left all on his tod, packing up his various files and papers. Jeremy for the umpteenth time launches in to his presentation and was just into the meat of it when the attention of all is disrupted with a visibly embarrassed Mr. Machaya making his way past the full Bench and in front of Jeremy heading for the door. So Jeremy stops again and all attention is centered on the hapless Machaya looking as though he is sorry to have been chosen as the defender of the indefensible. And worse, that callous fellow wielding his metre long boerewors of a movie camera has now crept out of his innocuous five minutes only don’t move about corner and is filming at close range poor Machaya’s acute discomfort.

 

One now wonders what was the purpose of setting the dogs on to Campbell, Etheredge and all the others in Chegutu and after all the adverse publicity going flat out to make amends by arresting all the perpetrators and recovering much of the looted property. We were convinced it was a set up so as to try and wriggle out of being held in Contempt. But the Attorney General’s office failed to capitalise on it and walked out instead. Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad!

 

Whereafter things in Court return to simulating a sedate British type conservative Courtroom. All similarities to Yankee soap operas disappear and Jeremy Gauntlett, no longer interrupted, fires with both barrels, no holds barred and now unopposed. The evidence was everything that evidence can be. Josephat Tshuma had earlier told us what good lawyers should strive for when making their case. Judges are human and you need to tug at their heartstrings, then you have to draw them in to become involved in the picture you sketch in words. Jeremy did all of that. Elize Angula had with some magic managed to print in full colour a selection of those twenty four horror photographs taken just after Mike, his wife Angela and son-in-law Ben were admitted to hospital. But they were now no longer just photographs, they were now the size of Castle Lager (sorry, Windhoek Lager) billboards and horrible in their detail. That of Mike’s broken and torn open finger hanging obscenely at right angles that precluded him from signing the “withdrawal from the court case in Windhoek” as demanded by his attackers was particularly gruesome and not one to gaze upon before breakfast. Mike’s picture made him look like a battered cadaver and bruised and battered Angela’s image too tugged mightily at the heartstrings.

 

The evidence was unassailable, and had Mr. Machaya heard it he would have found no “history lesson” to refute any of it. Names, ranks of army and police involved in the state orchestrated operation poured out. Details of how the authorities tasked with maintaining law and order did the opposite and assisted in the continued looting and violence could not be challenged even had the Respondent’s legal team remained. But the supreme bit of stupidity was a letter written on 11 July 2008 by the Attorney General’s office, and signed by J Tomana himself as the Deputy Attorney General – Crime, to firm of lawyers Coghlan, Welsh and Guest, incorporating Stumbles and Rowe, for the Attention of Mr. A N B Masterson. He wrote: “the provisional order of the SADC Tribunal cannot and has not suspended the Attorney General’s Constitutional responsibility to prosecute violators of any of Zimbabwe’s existing criminal laws such as section 3 of the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act. As I stated in my previous minute to yourselves the Attorney General’s Office is proceeding with the prosecutions.” The letter was copied to the Acting Attorney General – Justice Patel. Again, those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad!

 

The Zimbabwe Ambassador wasted no time after their walkout to try a little damage control. She called a press conference complete with television cameras and explained that the whites had infiltrated the Tribunal and as they were now prevented from receiving a fair deal they had no choice but to withdraw. The damage was compounded.

 

There is no doubt that this case is of great importance for future governance in the SADC region. In fact, it is going to have a bearing on land matters throughout Africa. What the Judges don’t know is that there is this delicious documentary “Mugabe and the White African” in the pipeline and that this film although not yet released has already generated great interest, admiration and not a little annoyance in some quarters. It too will provide for the man in the street much detail of what the case and issues are all about. We all wish that the final Tribunal judgement and the facts portrayed in the film will together and in unison bring the saga to the sort of end it obviously deserves.

 

We now have the judgement in the Contempt of Court case and the Government of Zimbabwe has been found without any shadow of a doubt to be in Contempt. The Contempt has been conveyed to the SADC Summit who in line with the rules of the Tribunal will have to deal with it. This meeting of the Summit will take place quite soon, but may be a damp squib as South Africa is to take over its chairmanship and President Thabo Mbeki, who has just asked the International Criminal Court not to proceed with the prosecution of Sudan’s President Al Bashir, will occupy the chair.

 

To rev him up a bit, we arranged for the Contempt judgement to get to the EU before Mbeki’s visit there where he is seeking investment for Africa. We shall do what we can to point out to the SADC Embassies that unless they take a hard line on this judgement which clearly establishes the lawlessness of one of their members, there will doubtless be repercussions on the western aid they can expect in future. Aid obviously cannot flow to those who are in bed with the lawless. Further evidence of ongoing prosecutions, harassment, evictions and looting of those supposed to be under the protection of the Tribunal interim relief order is being prepared and will be delivered to the SADC Secretariat in Gaborones in good time before the SADC Summit sits on the 15 August.

 

OUR RECEPTION IN WINDHOEK

 

Once again we have nothing but praise for the people of Namibia and their capital city Windhoek is as delightful as ever. Wherever we went sympathy and support for our cause came our way and all the people we met with were friendly and chatty. The Namibian Agricultural Union could not have been more hospitable. We all met with their President Raimar von Hase. He is an aristocratic gentleman, whose ancestry hailed from Germany some three generations back, and his sojourn in Africa has matured what was a fine wine to start with into a most charming and polished product. There is however a darker side to this delightful fellow, but of that more later. Dave Conolly together with Deon Theron and Alex Masterson also met with the NAU Executive Manager Sakkie Coetzee who kindly organised a quick whip around to buy some groceries for the pensioners of Harare.

 

Raimar joined us all for a drink at the Guest House on Wednesday evening and stayed for dinner. We were also joined by Mr. Robert Ridgway who hails from the UK and has a friend in common with Zach Freeth, Ben’s father. It transpires that Mr. Ridgway is in Namibia working on a project funded by the European Union to survey and grant title to the communal lands of Namibia. Your scribe unfortunately did not meet with Mr. Ridgway but has written to him to obtain details of this trail blazing giving of title which in SACFA’s opinion is the key and solution to many of the ills of Africa. it is especially important for all of us in the southern end embroiled in various land reform programmes. We shall bring to you more detail when we receive it.

 

So far Mr. Ridgway has set up and surveyed using satellite imagery the land holdings of about five hundred families in the north. He also disclosed that Botswana is similarly engaged in granting formal tenure, in fact they are further along the road than Namibia he said. The word was that the EU had earmarked 53 million Euros for the task in Namibia. We find this programme really exciting for there is no doubt that the benefits of title will soon become apparent in Namibia and Botswana and without doubt will spur their neighbour Zimbabwe to implement the same programme. In so doing we can cut out the lunacy of the present theft and destruction of productive farming properties.

 

BEN’S FUN AND GAMES ON THE RETURN JOURNEY

 

The mills of God grind slow but exceeding fine. Mr. G Mlotshwa, the lawyer who did not want the Zimbabwe legal team to be on film outside the Courtroom, was by some quirk of fate placed in a seat on the plane back to Harare which nestled next to those he considered his arch enemies lawyer Dave Drury and worse still, Ben Freeth. This was an untenable state of affairs so he complained bitterly to the Stewardess but to no avail. When however they arrived in Harare, Mlotshwa decided to film Ben as mobile. This was to prove the farcical assertion made by both the Chronicle and the Herald that Ben had suffered no injuries and he was only made up to look like he had been injured. What particularly incensed Mlotshwa was that he had seen Ben walk on or off a plane somewhere so his appearance in court in a wheelchair proved the humiliation they had suffered was all stage managed. It had nothing to do with neuro surgeon Mr. Auchterlonie’s instructions that Ben could walk a little if he had to, but otherwise had to use the chair. Mlotshwa should have taken time to glance at the Windhoek Observer newspaper and read Ben’s Medical Report which was quoted verbatim.

 

Things became particularly unpleasant when Mlotshwa began to harass Ben in front of his camera. He was creating such a ruckus that three security gentlemen in civvies came to find out what was going on. Mlotshwa wanted Ben taken down to the dungeons for questioning which Ben politely refused. Mlotshwa’s rage knew no bounds when the security gents took Ben’s side and started asking him how the case had gone. Then they made it worse by insisting that Mlotshwa leave Ben alone. So he took his camera and stormed off. We wonder whether Ben had the presence of mind to take a leaf out of Mlotshwa’s book, hold up his hand and shout “no filming”? Mlotshwa’s strange behaviour has been reported to the Law Society.

 

THE JOYS AND RISKS OF TRAVELLING WITH THE SCRIBE

 

Dave Conolly decided that because he had no South African visa it might be a good idea to travel to Windhoek by road with the scribe through Botswana. He was warned of the unpredictability of such an escapade. We left Bulawayo early on Monday morning and stopped in Francistown for fatty biltong for the road and a box of Select Claret to go with the dinner sandwiches when we stopped to sleep on the roadside. Conolly showed the effects of his misspent youth by referring to Select Claret as “happy juice”. At the roadblock at Kuke we told the police we were on our way to the SADC Tribunal for the case, and when we returned through there several days later they remembered us and wanted to know exactly how it had gone. We made good progress and had reached the town of Ghanzi by nightfall. We were planning to stay with Jack and Jane McLellan who live on a farm 20 kilometres out of town on our way back from Windhoek, but decided we were early enough to go and bother them for a bed which we did. We were right royally received and spent some time chewing the cud and supping “happy juice”, Conolly included. We left the next morning to make our way to Windhoek.

 

 Again we made good progress and decided to wait at the Windhoek Airport for the arrival of the rest of the gang. We met the sound engineer who had been waiting since morning and had been detained for not having the right bit of paper. Unlike Zimbabwe, where he would have been dragged off to the cells, he detained himself in the restaurant and after a while the correct piece of paper appeared. After some time our camera man appeared from town with his good lady and the equipment was assembled pending the arrivals of the stars. They duly arrived and were filmed for inclusion in the documentary. Then we set off for the Klein Windhoek Guest House which was to be our base whilst the case was being heard.

 

The case was completed by Thursday lunchtime, after which we were free to try and source all the various items we had been tasked to buy. This routine continued the following day and we got off to a late start on Saturday morning for various nefarious reasons which will remain unmentioned. The late start was compounded by the Namibians who lose an hour to their neighbours by changing their clocks each winter and we arrived at the Botswana border in the dark. From there we travelled to a place called Tshootsha, formerly known as Kalkfontein, where we turned off along the original untarred road from Ghanzi to the border at Buitepos. Having travelled on this road from the McLellans before, the Scribe knew he could safely leave the driving to Conolly whilst he softened the bumpy road with shots of “happy juice”. Just the right degree of somnolence had been obtained by the time we turned off onto the remarkably bad road leading to the farm. The scribe slept for the forty five minutes or so it takes to negotiate the 15 kilometres of Neanderthal road which rather surprised Conolly. Rather rudely he described the scribe’s resting to the “setting of a snoring jelly”!

 

The next morning, Sunday, we were asked what our plans were. They were to leave early on Monday morning so that we could reach the bank in Francistown and do some shopping before everything closed. When Jack told us nothing would even open until Wednesday morning because Monday and Tuesday were holidays so the scribe seized on the opportunity to see a little more of the Ghanzi hinterland. Conolly lost much of his sense of humour and suggested he was going to steal the bakkie and go home. Later, we were taken for a short tour of part of the farm by Jack and saw close up their battle to tame and make profitable this vast waterless Kalahari flatland.

 

There is no electricity reticulation to this area and eight solar panels on the house’s outbuilding roof provide the means of charging 18 very large 2 volt batteries connected so as to provide a 36 volt supply. This is fed through a large inverter which converts the 36 volts of direct current into 240 volts of alternating current to supply the house. The house has a gas stove but the refrigerator/freezer is a low wattage type run by the solar electricity supply. The hot water supply comes from the donkey boiler outside which we noticed had a neat pressure release valve fitted instead of the tall breather pipe contraption we are all used to.

 

These Ghanzi properties were originally used as cattle ranches, but many are now turning to game and are building lodges to cater for the tourists. Bush encroachment is similar to that in Namibia. The same species are to blame, swarthaak and sekelbos, only here they go by the names of blackthorn and sicklebush. Jack showed us a bush cutting machine one of the neighbours had bought and lent to them for a trial. It has a circular saw blade mounted in front parallel to the ground, which is hydraulically driven and has hydraulic rams which can move the blade from side to side. Wheels are solid rubber so as not to suffer from punctures in this thornveld, and the driver sits in an expanded steel plate cage so that falling thorn trees do not damage him. These invader species are very hard woods and take quite a bit of cutting and not very much had been cut down in one day. For the huge areas involved this machine seemed not to be a solution. A really hot fire would solve the problem, or maybe the Namibian methods of brush killer chemicals and the making of charcoal. This area employs Zimbabwe labour, all with work permits and legal. Farm wages are apparently in the region of 1800 Pula monthly and the staff are issued with overalls, industrial boots and food rations. All have cell phones. Small wonder then that there is a shortage of labour in Zimbabwe.    

 

There are several boreholes on the farms which supply water to the cattle and game. These are each equipped with submersible electric pumps which are solar powered by four panels but have no storage batteries so pumping starts at sunrise and stops at sunset. The water table in the areas underlain by calcrete is only about ten metres below the surface and these solar powered pumps produce about two to three cubic metres of water per hour. In the kalahari sands the boreholes can be up to two hundred metres deep and would need many more panels to cope with that head. The farm was busy installing a cold room and meat processing facility which was going to have 20 solar panels.

 

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY a.k.a. RAIMAR VON HASE

 

On our final night in Windhoek, the Namibian Agricultural Union very kindly invited us all out to dinner at Joe’s Beerhouse of which you have heard before. Most of us ordered steak, but the scribe ordered Eisbein which for those who haven’t lived properly is a roasted pork shank. At Joe’s these are very different to the emaciated specimens you can on occasion find in present day stock feed free Zimbabwe. Joe’s Eisbein could really be confused with a whole leg of pork. What is more, for some very delightful reason they don’t serve you one, they serve you two!

 

Conolly was still in friendly mood as he had not yet heard of his upcoming extended stay in Botswana, but he was still amazed to observe that the scribe, whom he insulted in Ghanzi as two livestock units, was only able to deal with one. For those of you mere crop farmers, one livestock unit is a fully grown cow weighing 450 kgs. The second Eisbein provided a late lunch for the two of us the following day on the road to Gobabis and the border.

 

Now this is where the plot grows darker and more ominous. After dinner we were presented with a couple of shots of Joe’s favourite liqueur, Jaegermeister. Then at about 11.00 pm when it was time to go home, we gathered in the car park, and Walter Mitty’s partner in crime Marietjie van Staden who produces the NAU magazine Agriforum took three of us back up the road to the Guest House. The scribe then took Josephat Tshuma on to his larney lodgings at the Country Club beyond Eros airport. On the way back he wondered how he was going to get back in to his lodgings as Conolly had the flat keys in his pocket together with the remote control for the gate. By this time he was no doubt cosily tucked up in his bed. The scribe rang the bell at the gate and lo and behold the gate was opened by a tired young lady at reception who then retired.

 

The scribe headed for the flat to find the lights on and the television playing – but it was all locked up and Conolly was missing! No key, no more receptionist but worst of all no Conolly with the keys either. He wasn’t with any of the others whose rooms were all in darkness. No way of going to look for him as it was not possible to open the gate. So the scribe sat down in reception wondering if it would be more comfortable than sleeping in the car.

 

At 2.00 am guess who comes home? Conolly and his tsotsi friend from the CFU Deon Theron. And guess what else? These vulnerable Zimbabwean youngsters had been led astray by that villain von Hase and his cohort van Staden, ensnared and corrupted by that drug Jaegermeister which is unknown in our blighted country. That nearly geriatric juvenile delinquent von Hase had enticed Conolly and Theron back into Joe’s from the car park and stayed with them until they had got the taste of Jaegermeister and were hooked on it. Then he sneaked away leaving these poor youngsters in the care of that terror Marietjie who proceeded to supply them liberally with the Jaegermeister stuff that gets served in little glasses.

 

CRAWFORD VON ABO WINS HIS CASE

 

The ruling in Mr. von Abo’s case has just been released. Mr. von Abo is a South African citizen who maintains that his interests and investments in Zimbabwe were not properly protected by the South African government. In spite of many approaches they did little to protect the affairs of von Abo and stood idly by while his farms in this country were stolen. Mr. von Abo took the matter to court and Justice Bill Prinsloo agreed and ordered the South African government to remedy Mr. von Abo’s rights and report back to the court within 60 days. Mr. von Abo, like pretty well everyone else, was not paid any compensation. SACFA congratulates Crawford von Abo and thanks him for his tenacious stand over many years which has now culminated in a blow against those who refused to oppose the blatant theft of other people’s property. We look forward to see how President Mbeki’s merry men are going to deal with this one.

 

FOOD

 

At long last some maize is being imported from South Africa and there is a little maize meal to be had on the black market at $500 billion per ten kgs or if you are well connected you might get it closer to the mills at $350 billion. Whole maize is allegedly being sold at GMB depots for $250 billion for supposed 50 kg bags.

 

MIKE CAMPBELL

 

Mike Campbell and his wife Angela have recovered sufficiently to be able to be driven back to their farm for their first visit since being abducted and assaulted. There were some touching scenes as their staff gathered around to greet and welcome them back to their home. Mike’s station wagon has been found. The transponder which was not transmitting for some reason decided to work late one night and showed that the vehicle was parked in a garage in Kadoma. This led to the arrest of Gilbert Moyo and some of his cronies. The prosecutor has withdrawn charges against many of those arrested and they have been released.

 

The electronic wizardry in the tracking device of Mike’s car shows exactly where the vehicle has been. It went, on Mike’s two full tanks of diesel, to Harare, Mutare, the Mozambique border and various other little sorties. Best to keep the tanks empty! Moyo didn’t realise he was being spied on and the information was invaluable in locating other skelms in the looting, abduction and assault saga.

 

The electricity supply in Chegutu and environs is worse than that in Bulawayo. There the power goes off for the whole day, whilst here in Bulawayo on the bad days you are only without power for about eight hours at a stretch.

 

Harassment and evictions of remaining farmers is ongoing, this treatment seems especially aimed at those in the district who have joined with Campbell. In spite of it all, the harvest of oranges proceeds apace and the whole area is flooded with oranges being peddled by vendors. Others ship sacks full of oranges to other markets.

 

 

GRAVES DESECRATED
Reality on the ground

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