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Zuma, Mugabe And The SADC Court
1 Sept 2015
ZUMA, MUGABE AND THE SADC COURT
“Can we not be Africans? We are not allowed to be called Africans if we are white”. These words are uttered by Ben Freeth in the documentary “Mugabe and the White African”. This documentary brings home the horrendous experiences of Ben, his family and their farm workers at the hand of Zimbabwean government aligned forces. The documentary includes ample covert video footage. The footage includes their recording of the carnage their friends experienced on neighbouring farms.
This week Ben and others are taking Jacob Zuma to court over Zuma’s participation in the perceived illegal disbandment of the SADC (South African Development Community) Tribunal. This tribunal was disbanded after its ruling in favour of Mike Campbell, owner of the farm Mount Carmel in Zimbabwe. Some may recall the court case that Mike instituted a decade ago against the Zimbabwean government due to their illegal eviction from the farm.
Ben Freeth is married to Laura, daughter of Mike Campbell. Mike passed away in 2011, but his unyielding courage against a draconic regime stands as an example to all of us.
The most insightful part of the documentary is the touching scenes where Mike & Angela, Ben & Laura, together with their children, farm workers and neighbours shared the same agony, fears and frustrations, day after day, night after night. The goodwill and concern that the farmers showed towards the farm workers is very clear.
It is shown how the Zimbabwean government achieves success in having the SADC Tribunal in Windhoek delay the court case twice. 10 days before the third appearance the documentary shows how their friends in Namibia receive news of the abduction of Mike, Ben and Angela. Ben afterwards describes his experience of the Hand of God in that their abductors delivered them to the nearest town and did not leave them in the field to die. This after their torture in which Mike’s fingers were broken and all of them received severe head and bodily injuries. Even under torture, they refused to sign a letter presented to them to abandon the court case. If anything, this treatment only strengthened their resolve to follow through on the court case.
Due to his injuries, Mike was unable to attend the court case, but Ben managed to attend – bandaged and in a wheel chair. After the court heard the original case, the second case – namely contempt of court – against the Zimbabwean government started. This case was made due to the abduction and torture of Mike and his family against the court’s previous ruling that they stay unharmed. It was very telling – when the contempt case started – that the Zimbabwean delegation excused themselves from the proceedings. Footage of this event is shown in the documentary. The defendant could not face the plain and clear truth behind all the false rhetoric.
Mike and his team achieved a resounding court victory that day, but this victory turned out to be a moral victory rather than a practical victory. After this ruling two things happened. The farm house was burned down, the farm destroyed and the Cambells, Freeths and farm workers were chased off the land. Secondly the SADC Tribunal was disbanded, thereby entrenching state dictatorship and removing the democratic legal avenue of citizens to an international court residing over Southern African affairs.