Judegment Day At The High Court London

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

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Reginald Mengi: When will President Kikwete condemn his corruption?



Jakaya Kikwete

President of Tanzania


President Kikwete first came to power in 2005 on the back of anti-corruption rhetoric and assurances of good governance. Speaking at the opening of the executive committee of the  the International Association of Anti Corruption Agencies (IAACA) in Arusha in March 2012, Kikwete  stated that Corruption remains a major obstacle to achieving the much needed growth and development in developing countries and was detested and resented in all countries on this planet. Kikwete stated that a corruption free world is possible asking everyone to paly his or her part.


President Kikwete (centre) with Reginald Mengi (right)

Commonwealth Business Forum in Perth 2011


President Kikwete is a close friend of Reginald Mengi owner of the Tanzanian media empire IPP Media. Mengi is Tanzanian’s foremost anti-corruption activist continually vocal on the subject deploring it and others on all levels. In 2006, in IPP Media's the Guardian newspaper denounced ten Tanzanian citizens as the most corrupt in Tanzania naming them in his newspaper.

Mengi travelled with Kikwete to the Commonwealth Business Forum in Perth in 2011 to promote Tanzania as an investor destination. Both men seek to promote foreign direct investment in Tanzania describing Tanzania as a haven for investors.

Mengi’s IPP media produces high profile publications in Tanzania i.e the Guardian, an English Daily and it’s sister in Swahili the Nipashe. Mengi persistently appears on the front page of these publications espousing his ant corruption stand and the need for a transparent and accountable media. Mengi states his media has made a significant impact on the fight against social injustice in Tanzania.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Perth, Australia in 2011 Kikwete said that Africa had all the qualifications to be a global economic powerhouse in the 21 century if the potentials in the continent were effectively developed emphasising the need for investment in agricultural development.

At the High Court in London in December 2013, Mr Justice Bean delivered Judgment in favour of British investor Sarah Hermitage, who had been sued for libel by  Reginald Mengi. Reginald Mengi sued in respect of five postings on Sarah Hermitage’s Silverdale Farm blog and two emails she had sent, which Mr Mengi claimed to be false and defamatory of him.

During the trial, the Court heard unchallenged evidence from Sarah Hermitage and her husband, Stewart Middleton, as to how they were by threats, intimidation and corruption driven from Tanzania and forced to abandon the investment they had made in their farm, Silverdale, of which Reginald Mengi’s younger brother, Benjamin, then took possession. The Court was told that a major factor in the ordeal they suffered was the hostile and defamatory coverage their case received from the IPP-owned English language Guardian and the Swahili Nipashe newspapers. Reginald Mengi, in the course of his evidence, repeatedly stated that he “was not responsible, not accountable and not answerable” for the editorial content of IPP publications.

In giving Judgment, Mr Justice Bean ruled:

“I find that the campaign in the Guardian and Nipashe facilitated Benjamin’s corruption of local officials and intimidation of the  Middleton's and thus helped Benjamin to destroy  their  investments and grab their properties; and that Mr
[Reginald] Mengi, since he either encouraged or knowingly permitted the campaign, was in that sense complicit in Benjamin’s corruption and intimidation..”

After handing down judgment Mr Justice Bean ordered that Reginald Mengi should pay the defence costs at the higher “indemnity” rate. In reaching this decision, the factors cited by the Judge included that Counsel for Sarah Hermitage had “rightly described the litigation as “oppressive”, that “enormous costs had been thrown at the case from the beginning, indeed before the issue of proceedings” and that the evidence of the Claimant and his witnesses had in a number of respects been “misleading and untrue.”

The judge also found that IPP Media operated a policy of favourable reporting on President Kikwete in that all publications on the president had to be approved from “above”.

President Kikwete’s good friend and anti-corruption activist had been found to be complicit in corruption at the London High Court corruption,  that had assisted the destruction of foreign direct investment in Tanzania. This was against all the rhetoric that Kikwete has been trumpeting in donors ears sine he came into office.

Kikwete has not to date, condemned this corruption. Further, on his return to Tanzania from the Trail in December 2012, Kikwete awarded Mengi with the Environmental Medal of the First and Second Class.

As Kikwete addressed the Commonwealth Business Forum in Perth, Sir Roger Gale, UK’s member of parliament for Thanet North posed the following question to the House of Commons.  “President Kikwete of Tanzania urged investors in his country to reinvest the profits from their companies in his country. Unfortunately, as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office well knows, he is the same President Kikwete who is in thrall to the media baron Reginald Mengi and who has done nothing to give satisfaction to my constituents Sarah and Stewart Hermitage, whose farm in Tanzania was stolen from them by Mr Mengi's brother. Could we have a debate in Government time to discuss not only the joys but the dangers of investing in Tanzania"?


When will President Kikwete condemn Reginald Mengi’s corruption  in the Silverdale case?



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