Judegment Day At The High Court London

Judegment Day At The High Court London
Mengi v Hermitage: Libel Claim Successfully Defended

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Kikwete pleas for investors in agriculture

President Kikwete made a passionate plea at the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday for the developed world to go to Africa and invest in agriculture stating that Africa has almost everything to make agriculture prosper and feed the entire world. "Agriculture will assure us of food security. We can export the surplus so as to get more money to improve agriculture...Africa should also focus on improvement.….through investment'', he stated.

What Kikwete failed to state was that there is no effective rule of law in Tanzania with the Police, Judiciary and Lands Office being the three most corrupt institutions in the country (ForDya 2010) and the most vital to the security of foreign direct investment.

It would seem that Kikwete’s committment to both agriculture and investment is nothing more than rhetorical as he has deliberately failed to address the corruption involved in the Silverdale Farm Case. In this case British investors Stewart Middleton and Sarah Hermitage purchased the lucrative lease to Silverdale & Mbono Farms in the Hai District of the Kilimanjaro region from Benjamin Mengi brother to IPP Media CEO Reginald Mengi. The investors were stated to be bona fide in all respects by former Minister of Investment for Tanzania Dr Juma Ngasongwa and the head of the Tanzania Investment centre Mr. Ole Naiko.

A year after the assignment Mengi asked for the lease back stating he had not been paid in full and despite signing a receipt. When the investors refused, they were chased from the country by violence and intimidation culminating in the arrest of Mr. Middleton and his staff. President Kikwete has failed to fulfil his promises to the British government which was to apply the rule of law to the situation.

Whilst there is a growing awareness of corruption in Tanzania there are no effective mechanisms in place to address it. Corruption in Tanzania is a way of life, a culture, and a means to an end. No matter how many anti corruption bureaus exist, if not administered objectively then sustainable political reform is by fear and favour rendered impossible. Justice is bought and paid for in particularly in the lower courts. Most abusive are the courts of resident magistrate. Here, magistrates abuse the law and supplement their salaries with frightening simplicity and impunity. Trial is always without jury and many defendants are sentenced to prison in abuse of law on charges not even contained in the penal code. Public prosecutors openly tout their services to defendants able to afford a ‘not guilty’ judgement on the day of trial and the penal code is mostly ignored and seldom understood. Resident magistrates sit on civil cases as well as criminal cases with an equal degree of corruption.

Due process is continuously blocked by the refusal of corrupt court administrators to accept documents for filing and daily claims of ‘the court file is lost’ remains an effective way of keeping an innocent defendant in prison without hope of release. The police, particularly in the lower ranks know or care nothing of the penal code or the required procedures for arrest. Human rights are brutally denied on a daily basis resulting in people in prison for years for crimes they did not commit or know nothing about.

Law does not combat the root causes of corruption but it can, if administered objectively, form an effective deterrent. Until it does, the unheard are denied voices, the poor are further impoverished, the innocent denied justice and sustainable development rendered impossible. The scope within the administrations of justice for the operation of simplistic but effective corruption resulting in the deprivation of human rights and freedoms is truly terrifying.

What is clear is, that the rhetoric coming out of Tanzania vis-à-vis good governance does not sit comfortably with the reality and any genuine commitment to substantive political reform is for the foreseeable future undermined by the absence of an objective rule of law and foreign direct investment is therefore, unsafe.

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