Juma Volter Mwapachu
Juma Volter Mwapachu is a law graduate of the University of Dar es Salaam (degree obtained in 1969). He also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in International Law, International Institutions and Diplomacy from the Indian Academy of International Law and Diplomacy, New Delhi, India. The University of Dar es Salaam conferred on him a Doctor of Literature degree (Honoris Causa) in 2005.
Some time towards the end of 2102, Juma Mwapachu who holds a Twitter account in the name of @JVMwapachu tweeted to me and the rest of his timeline to ask if I would have the decency to respect his head of state President Kikwete. He was referring to tweets I had posted about Kikwete essentially, to highlight the fact that his government failed to up the law in respect of Silverdale Farm and was not addressing issues of corruption thereto.
Now Dr. Mwapachu is an educated man according to his resume that he has posted on Wikipedia. A lawyer and Doctor of Literature. It would not be a great leap forward to assume that he is a man that aspires to high standards of political accountability in Tanzania, strict adherence to the rule of law and, above all perhaps, free speech. Alas, not so according to his Tweet to me asking me not to criticise his president. This he described as “off limits”. All sorts of personalities come flooding into my mind from this, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler for example. Should criticism of these leaders actions be stifled Dr Mwapachu just because they were heads of state? I think not.
Leaving that question aside for the present and making if clear, that no similarities are made or attempted here between Kikwete and the aforementioned leaders, Mwapachu’s anger at my criticism of his president under the circumstances that they were (and will continue ) made raises some serious questions about governance in Tanzania.
There are few that do not know of the circumstances surrounding Silverdale Farm in the Hai District of the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania.
In 2004, my husband Stewart Middleton and I purchased a 45-year lease to Silverdale & Mbono farms from Benjamin Mengi. The purchase of the lease complied fully with the laws of Tanzania and no court has set that sale aside. One year after the assignment of our lease, Benjamin Mengi demanded it back, stating he had not been paid in full. In fact, he had signed a receipt for the monies. When we refused to return the lease, he stated that he would drive us out of Tanzania by any means, “cut to pieces in a coffin, if necessary”. A four-year campaign of violence, harassment, and intimidation was then unleashed against us, facilitated by the police and judiciary and involving a number of state institutions. This included the refusal of the authorities to register our lease: Recognise our Deed of Assignment: The destruction of commercial contracts; Violence to, and the imprisonment of key operational Tanzanian staff: The repeated arrest, and ultimate imprisonment, of my husband on trumped-up charges.
Perhaps the most destructive dynamic of this campaign was Benjamin Mengi’s use of the courts and judiciary to engage us in years of costly and vexatious litigation within a corrupt legal system, which crippled us financially and emotionally.
Any comment from Dr Mwapachu at this point? No!
Due to the unchecked violence and intimidation against us, we fled Tanzania in 2009 with the loss of our entire investment. Benjamin Mengi broke into our house, stole all of our possession and took possession of the farms. This criminality was facilitated entirely by the Tanzanian courts and police acting in abuse of law. Recently, corrupt Moshi lawyer Apollo Maruma decided to take it upon himself to act for the Kieri, Shari and Uswaa Mamba co-operatives societies and evict Mengi from the farms. The societies who had received rent from us as the lawful investors, unilaterally decided that we never existed in Tanzania and now fail to recognise our existence. They now treat the farms as their own ignoring our legal rights in respect of the lease.
Any word from Dr Mwapachu? No!
When I returned to the UK having been forced from Tanzania by savage brutality and abuse of law, I set up a Blog, http://thesilverdalecase.blogspot.co.uk/: I did so, to document our horrific experiences in Tanzania, and to expose as a warning for others the corruption we encountered and our helplessness with no protection from the local Courts and officials. On the blog, I accused Reginald Mengi of using his media to assist his brother’s campaign to corrupt the courts, police and government organisation to drive us out of Tanzania and steal our investment. Reginald Mengi sued me in the London High Court for Libel. The case was heard in November 2012 and I successfully defended his claim.
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 Middletons 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. ..”
Reginald Mengi: Found to be complicit in the corruption of his brother Benjamin
Any word from Dr Mwapachu? No!
The Silverdale Farm issue now involves Tanzanian’s head of state Jakaya Kikwete. His close friend Reginald Mengi has been found guilty in the High Court in London to have been complicit in the corruption of his brother Benjamin. The same corruption that destroyed foreign investment in Tanzania: That same investment that Kikwete is spending copious amounts of his tax payers money trying to secure.
Any word from Kikwete on the Silverdale issue? Actually yes.
When Reginald Mengi returned to Tanzania having been found complicit in corruption in the UK, Kikwete rewarded him with the Environmental Medal of the First Class (for outstanding and exemplary service to the nation) thus sending a loud message to his countryman, that he does not really care about this particular issue of corruption or, the destruction of this particular investment or the particular 150 Tanzanian that lost their jobs as a result.
Any word from Dr Mwapachu? No!
President Jakaya Kikwete pays his last respects to the body of Millie Mengi, the wife of Ben Mengi (2nd R)
Now, it is fair to say, that President Kikwete is a close friend to both Mengi Brothers. He attended the funeral of Millie Mengi on 14th June 2010 at which Reginald Mengi gave a moving a vote of thanks on behalf of the Mengi stating “Our special thanks to you president…you are different from other people, you love people, you love God; you don’t forget people in need… you are a true friend.” However, despite that friendship, is it not incumbent upon a head of state to address issues of corruption wherever or whatever they may be?
Well, under the doctrine of superior responsibility he clearly is and one would suggest, that given his rhetorical trumpeting to the international donor community of his commitment to the rule of law one would think he would adhere strictly to the doctrine in order to show his endorsement of a customary principle which promotes international justice.
Not so in the Silverdale issue. Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in the UK reveals that Kikwete’s government ministers continue to obfuscate and quite simply lie about the facts of the case. It is inconceivable, given the high profile nature of this case that Kikwete does not know what is being said. The information is out there!
The information shows that Kikwete has directed Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Membe to sort out this case. Yet Membe has never spoken to me.
Further, the standard excuse used by the Tanzanian government is “we cannot get involved in legal proceedings”. This excuse is simply a lie. I do not ask the Tanzanian government to intervene in any legal process, we don't have any. What I ask, is for the Tanzanian government to uphold the law in respect of our rights. We have no legal process against anyone and never have had. What we do have is a legal lease which no court has set aside and which the state of Tanzania fails to recognise. Quite simply, the obfuscation of these simple facts protect the stark criminality in the Silverdale issue.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
Whilst President Kikwete and Mr Membe may feel that they have no right to interfere with the judiciary (and I happen to believe that is wrong given Tanzania's judicial processes are filthy with corruption) they do have an obligation (which pervades international law) to uphold the domestic laws of Tanzania and recognise our legal rights in Tanzania. They are refusing to do so in the Silverdale Farm issue on indefensible grounds and thereby protecting corruption and criminality as a result.
So Dr Mwapachu, let me address the question you put to me on Twitter i.e. “Madam, will you afford us the courtesy of respecting our head of state”.
My answer to you is no, at this point in time I will not. President Kikwete gave his promises to the British government and the international community in a conference in Tanzania that the law in this issue would be upheld. Kikwete has not kept those promises and has sat back and watched me and my family, brutally assaulted, imprisoned harassed and intimidated in Tanzania. He has watched us driven from Tanzania by the most brutal and savage corruption. He has not kept his word to the British government and shows no sign of doing so. Until he does, and until he upholds the rule of law in Tanzania and protects our rights in respect of it, then no Mr Mwapachu, I will show your head of state no respect.
Finally Dr Mwapachu, when asking me to do so may I ask you to bear the following in mind. Complicity in the abuse of human rights and corruption arises by omission as well as commission. The Silverdale issue is not a commercial dispute. It is an issue of corruption, denial of justice and access to law, violence and intimidation. It is a case that illuminates corruption in the business environment at the highest levels of government and business leadership.
Dr Mwapachu, rather than calling my conduct to account on Twitter, may I suggest, you address the conduct of the government of Tanzania with equally veracity, and its failure to uphold the law in the Silverdale issue. I remind you that the Silverdale issue is not about individuals. It is about the sincerity of governments to address corruption wherever it is found. If you ignore the abuses inherent in this issue then you condone similar abuses against your own citizens and that is as indefensible as your governments refusal to address the corruption in Silverdale Farm.
21st April 2013.