Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it. Adolf Hitler
Zitto Kabwe is a Tanzanian politician. He is a member of the Tanzanian Parliament (CHADEMA), representing Kigoma North, Shadow Finance Minister and Chairperson for Public Investments Committee. He is a colourful, charismatic M.P. and a very public liar. Not cool!
In January 2012 I wrote an article called Tanzania: Is UK Aid Fuelling Corruption http://in2eastafrica.net/tanzania-is-uk-aid-fuelling-corruption/. The article was as the title suggests, an examination on how UK aid is being lost to corruption in Tanzania and how continuing to provide it would fuel corruption.
I received many emails from Tanzanians with various comments on the article but one in particular is significant. It was an email from one Mr Irenei Kiria. Mr Kiria is the Executive Director of Sikika, Tanzania, a local health advocacy NGO with a mandate in health governance. Sikika is funded in part by foreign aid.
Irenei emailed me on 10th January 2012 and stated in relation to the above article “Sarah, I couldn’t agree with you more! Thank you for your succinct article on aid and corruption in Tanzania. I hope your article finds its way in the politicians, both Tanzania and UK”.
I replied and thanked him for his comments and asked him casually if he knew who I was i.e that I was one of the investors in the Silverdale Farm issue. He replied, “Agrrrrr, very irritating! Pole sana, will pick this up with you tomorrow”. I wondered what exactly he was going to pick up in the morrow but thought little of it, it was after all an innocuous comment.
True to his word, Irenei contacted me by email the next day. He emailed me an asked me to go onto Twitter (a forum I had never engaged in previously) and contact @aeyakuze Aidan Eyakuze on Twitter and be mindful of the following comment by Zitto Kabwe:-
I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about and asked him to clarify what he was asking me to do.
He emailed me again stating that he felt the Tanzanian people would benefit from my comments on what had been tweeted i.e. Zitto Kabwe tweeting to one Aidan Eyakuze that I was bad mouthing Reginald Mengi.
At this point I interject in the thread of the story. The reader is asked to consider why, Irenei Kiria, who doesn’t know me from a bar of soap, emailed me to congratulate me for an article I had written on aid and, on finding out who I was (i.e. Silverdale Farm) tell me he would contact me the next day and on doing so, ask me to engage in a conversation on Twitter with Zitto Kabwe (already poised and ready to engage with me) for the sake of the Tanzanian people? #ismellarat
So following Mr Kiria’s request I sheepishly tried to find my way around twitter. “Go to Kabwe’s timeline” he instructed when I lost my way.
I eventually found Kabwe’s timeline and found him tweeting to Mr Kiria, Aidan Eyakuze and Mbaraka Islam. He told the men that I was a woman that bad mouthed Mengi, (singular) and that I was fighting with the Mengis (plural) on Silverdale Farm.
So there I was, first time on Twitter and there I find, three men I did not know from a bar of soap tweeting about me. #ismellanotherrat.
I informed urrrr oh yes Mr Kabwe, that I didn’t fight with the Mengis and that I was just attempting to uphold the rule of Tanzanian law. He responded by somewhat ineloquently stating that my case (didn't know he knew anything about my case) was genuine but, I should not link it to UK aid to Tanzania (I had not) and that in any case, UK aid was reparation for colonial exploits.
Mr Kabwe surprise surprise then copied Mr Reginald Mengi in on his prevarications stating “if you didn't quarrel with Mengis surely you wouldn't be writing what you write now”.
The tweeting continued with
@zittokabwe, @irenei2011, @regmengi and @aeyakuze all either commenting or copied in. Kabwe declared that he had done a lot for Tanzania in the last ten years and that nothing I had written in the article was new. He told me UK aid was reparation for colonialism and that Tanzania could do without it. He finished with the telling statement “Tanzania first, right or wrong”.
So, there I was minding my own business when I receive a complimentary email from one Irenei Kiria who, having found out who I was (i.e. Silverdale farm) comes back to me the next day asking me to go onto Twitter (an alien world to me then) and engage with Zitto Kabwe who, was waiting with his associate literary predators to attack me with an obsessional interest in the “Mengis” who were not mentioned in the article.
Coincidence? I don’t think so, do you?
The following day, Kabwe posted the following statement on the social networking Forum JamiiForums. JamiiForums, ummmmm, isn’t that run by Mbaraka Islam and isn’t Islam something to do with Reginald Mengi?
My brothers I think it`s better to know something better before starting to make conclusions about it. I would like to know better what was written in the Twitter.
There is a woman called Sarah who is a British whom together with her husband quarrelled with Benjamin Mengi over pieces of land now called Silverdale farms.
Their differences were big and even reported in the British Parliament. This lady has now turned the differences or conflict to be personal and turned the business conflict between her and Mengi to look like it involves all Tanzanians. She has been writing numerous articles to tarnish the name of Tanzania and Tanzanians. She has been demanding compensation with her husband from the Tanzania Government over a mistake committed by one Tanzanian called Benjamin Mengi.
This woman together with her husband never registered with TIC so that they can know her investment in the land in order to get legal protection. Recently she wrote articles on aid dependence by Tanzania, which is true, but she exaggerated the numbers, which was not true and has led to Tanzanians to start discussing them and believing what she wrote to be true. Some of us told her on Twitter that the figures she wrote are not true.
Secondly she should have indicated in her article that she has a case with the Tanzanian Government. She should also have indicated that she has been pressurizing the U.K. Government to stop aid to Tanzania until the Tanzanian Government pays her compensation.
As for me, I am led by an open policy of whether right or wrong my country (Tanzania) first and as such, cannot allow a person, furthermore a white person who calls themselves an investor to abuse my country because he/she has differed with his fellow businesspeople.
I have also been told that this woman is being paid by Yusuf Manji so that she can persist in the conflict she has with Reginald Mengi.
We cannot allow being under looked because of conflict of two people.
I have told this woman and I repeat that it here, this issue is about repatriating wealth taken away by colonialists.
I have told this woman that even if British wants to stop aid to Tanzania, let them do so as we will not die as a result.
I have told her that and I repeat it here and that`s me saying it openly. The one who brought this discussion should print the whole Twitter conversation and not part of it. She has brought it and many of you have been dragged in her trap to spin for her saga without questioning her intention.
At no point did my article mention either Reginald or Benjamin Mengi or indeed Silverdale Farm. What on earth prompted Zitto Kabwe to link my article to theses issues in this very aggressive and public way? Further, why did Zitto Kabwe choose to include Reginald Mengi in his Twitter tirade?
Lastly and perhaps more bizarrely, Kabwe stated that I was demanding compensation from the Tanzania Government over a mistake committed by Benjamin Mengi and, wait for it, I was being paid by Yusuf Manji to persist in my conflict with Reginald Mengi.
Do I have to spell out what went on here? I don’t think so, it’s kind of self explanatory isn’t it?
Kabwe made very serious allegations against me on a very public forum and did not produce any evidence to support them. Where did these allegations come from one asks, no smoke without fire? Well, in this case there is. There is not even a spark to support Kabwe’s defamation of me. Where did the allegations come from, well, it is suggested here, from Reginald Mengi himself whom seemingly and in the absence of any other explanation for his conduct, Kabwe was seeking to impress.
My evidence for this suggestion is as follows.
In 2010, Reginald Mengi issued court proceedings in Tanzania against Yusuf Manji seeking damages for conspiring with me, to damage his reputation. The plaint was illiterate and certainly did not show any cause of action yet as always, the Tanzanian judiciary allowed it to proceed. Mengi also produced photo copies of receipts for payments amounting to over $50,000 made out to “the Middletons, re Mengi”. Importantly Mengi did not join me in the plaint. An extraordinary omission one might think given he stated we were co-conspirators, why not join me in the plaint?
An answer to this could be, that at the same time as issuing the plaint against Manji in Tanzania, Reginald Mengi issued Libel proceedings against me in the London High Court. I had, on my Silverdale Farm blog accused him of using his media to defame me, my husband and our Tanzanian staff in an attempt to destroy our investment in Tanzania on Silverdale Farm and facilitate the theft of the farm by his brother Benjamin.
So Mengi had a problem. He had issued a plaint against Manji in Tanzania and also against me in the UK. Even if both cases could proceed, my legal team would now have access to the documents he had served in the Manji plaint in Tanzania.
My legal team asked on a number of occasions for the Yusuf Manji plaint documents to be disclosed to us together with the original receipts supposedly evidencing I had been paid by Yusuf Manji. They were not forthcoming. Some three weeks before the London trial, Reginald Mengi withdrew his claim against Manji paying him damages.
I digress once again to give a legal explanation of the significance of this move by Mengi. In any trial for libel, there are legal defences. One such defence is that of qualified privilege. This means, that if a statement is make under an occasion of qualified privilege then it is protected under the law (regardless of whether it is true or not) unless, the statement is made with malice. Malice in this sense means, that the person that made the statement knew it was not true.
In the proceedings against me in London, Reginald Mengi stated my publications were malicious i.e., I knew that when I made them they were not true. The court asked Mengi to reproduce the evidence he had regarding the Yusuf Manji conspiracy trial. After all said my counsel, “there can be no greater evidence of malice on the part of Ms Hermitage”, so produce these documents to show such evidence.
Mengi did not produce the documents to the London court, gave no reason why he had withdrawn the proceedings against Yusuf Manji stating only he “ was advised by my lawyers”
I did however produce to the London court the documents Reginald Mengi had filed in the Yusuf Manji case. These documents had originated from the computer I owned whilst living in my house on Silverdale Farm. The computer was stolen by Benjamin Mengi the day I left Tanzania. Benjamin Mengi broke into my house and stole all my possessions which included my computer.
None of the documents showed any hint of Yusuf Manji and myself engaging in any conspiracy in respect of Reginald Mengi and the court was shown each and every document Mengi had used in his plaint in Tanzania. Mengi was asked by the London High Court where he had obtained the documents.
He was unable to answer or produce the originals of the receipts he had filed in the Tanzania court he stated evidenced payments to me from Yusuf Manji.
This brings us to Kabwe’s second missive on Twitter last month. The High Court had found that Mengi, his witnesses and lawyer Nguma, had lied to the court. Committed perjury that means. The court found also that Mengi was complicit in his brother’s corruption in the destruction of our investment in Tanzania and that his media was corrupt and operated a favourable media policy in favour of President Kikwete. The court established that the case against Manji had been withdrawn by Mengi two weeks before the London trial and that no aspect of my conduct was malicious.
Any rational thinking person would not think it unreasonable for me to ask Kabwe for an apology for his incomprehensible defamatory outburst against me both on Twitter and JamiiForums. So, last month via Twitter I did so.
Kabwe refused to apologise and once again inexplicably started talking about Reginald Mengi (is he obsessed with this man). Having told him the issue had nothing to do with Mengi (it was actually obvious) he denied refused once again to apologise and denied that he had even make the comments.
I posted them on Twitter to jog his memory. Still he denied making the statements #thegardenofgethsemani
Those that know me, know I am direct. I called Kabwe a liar and told him he was corrupt. After all, lying is the corruption of language. In its purest form corruption is the abuse of power for private gain so its not rocket science to deduct that Kabwe was acting corruptly. His gain? Well let the reader surmise.
Zitto Kabwe with President Kikwete (right)
Before the London High Court trial I had not met or spoken to Reginald Mengi. What I did know was, that he was complicit in the corruption of his brother Benjamin in the use off his media in order to “grab our property in Tanzania”. Reginald Mengi walked into my life. He chose to sue me in London and I successfully defended his claims. He still owes me over £1,000,000 in costs not yet paid. Whatever damage the London court case did to Reginald Mengi, was caused by Reginald Mengi, not me. Zitto Kabwe, I had never met and barely heard of.
Well what is the point of all this one might ask. Is this just not all childish banter?
Actually it is not. Kabwe accused us of very serious criminal activity in Tanzania in his JamiiForums publication and on Twitter and did not have the evidence to support it. He stated we were not legal investors in the Tanzania, we were publishing inaccurate articles to tarnish Tanzania and that I was being paid by Yusuf Manji to defame Reginald Mengi. Very serious conduct indeed from a member of the Tanzanian parliament which should concern Tanzanians (and donors given his dislike of foreign aid). His conduct was dishonest, contradictory to his espoused morals and frankly, downright cowardly.
Zitto Kabwe is a seemingly popular, charismatic politician with an eye on the Tanzanian presidency. He is also deeply critical of the kindness of the British tax payer and the aid they give to Tanzania stating it is reparation for colonialism. This comment alone came close to appearing on the front page of UK’s The Sunday Times and was only dropped because Kabwe was not of “the ruling party”. Had he been and if he ever repeats them when he is, I have no doubt at all that the British tax payer will come to hear them and they wont be best pleased.
So why are Kabwe’s comments and his subsequent lies to deny them so important. Well, he lied, lied again and then lied some more. What's the problem you may ask, all politicians lie and in any case, you’re just some Msungu causing a kalali. No, its deeper than that. Kabwe made the comments for a reason and he dishonestly denied them for a reason. That reason was to protect/promote himself to his followers. He did therefore abuse his power for private gain and that my friends is corruption. No matter how you want to dress it up or shoot me down it will always come back to that.
Has this damaged him, after all, no one takes any notice of me. Well, I think it has. It has shown to his followers that he is dishonest, does not have the courage of his convictions and is not prepared to condemn corruption on each and every level of Tanzanian society.
Neither of the Mengis are important in the Silverdale Farm case. There are corrupt men like this in every country in every part of the world. The Silverdale Farm case is a case of the Tanzanian government violating it obligations under the law to protect me, my family and staff from a prolonged campaign of illegality and harassment aided by local police, courts and government officials. This included attacks on our staff ourselves and damage to our property and land culminating in the unjustified incarceration of my husband and Tanzanian staff in Tanzanian prisons. Kabwe has, through his statements supported this harassment and continues to do so by his refusal to apologize for his remarks. Importantly his position as a parliamentarian invites his followers to follow this path which, his position unavoidable legitimises.
Will Tanzanians care? Actually, I think many will.
ORIGINAL SWAHILI PUBLICATION OF KABWES STAEMENT ON JAMIIFORUM
Ndugu zangu. Nadhani ni hekima kujua Jambo kwa kina kabla ya kuanza kulitolea maneno na hukumu. Ninaomba kuelewa kifupi sana nini kilitokea huko twitter. Kuna mama anaitwa Sarah. Mwingereza ambaye pamoja na mume wake waligombana na Benjamin Mengi kuhusu mashamba yanayoitwa sasa Silverdale Farms.
Ugomvi huu ulikuwa mkubwa na kuripotiwa mpaka katika Bunge la Uingereza. Huyu mama sasa hivi ameufanya Ugomvi ule binafsi na wa kibiashara kati yake na kina Mengi kuwa ni Ugomvi dhidi ya Watanzania wote. Amekuwa akiandika makala mbalimbali za kuichafua Tanzania. Amekuwa akitaka Serikali ya Tanzania imlipe yeye na mumewe fidia kwa makosa ya raia mmoja wa Tanzania anaitwa Benjamin Mengi. Huyu mama na mumuewe hakuwahi kujiandikisha TIC ili kujua uwekezaji wake kwenye shamba na hata kupata protection ya kisheria. Sasa juzi kaandika makala kuhusu aid dependence ya Tanzania (Jambo ambalo ni la kweli) lakini akaweka takwimu nyingi sana za uwongo ambazo Watanzania wamezidaka na kuzizungumza Kama za kweli hivi. Baadhi yetu tukamwambia through twitter kwamba takwimu sake sio sahihi. Pili tukamwambia alipaswa kusema Kama note katika makala yake kwamba yeye ana kesi na Serikali ya Tanzania. Kwamba yeye amekuwa akiilazimisha nchi yake ya Uingereza iinyime muswada Tanzania mpaka hapo Serikali ya Tanzania itakapomlipa fidia!
Mimi naongozwa na msimamo wa wazi kabisa kwamba 'right or wrong my country first' na hivyo siwezi kuruhusu mtu, tena mzungu anayejiita mwekezaji kuitukana nchi nchi yangu kwa sababu tu wamerushana na wafanyabiashara wenzake.
Tena nikajulishwa kwamba mama huyu analipwa na Yusuf Manji ili kuitumia Ugomvi huu dhidi ya Reginald Mengi katika vita vyao vya kila siku. Hatuweziweka rehani kwa sababu ya magomvi ya watu binafsi. Nimemwambia huyu mama na ninarudia kusema, muswada hii ni sehemu ya kurejesha Mali zilizonyonywa na ukoloni. Nimemwambia huyu mama kwamba hata Waingereza wakitaka kuondoa misaada Yao waondoe na wala hatutakufa kwa kukosa misaada Yao. Nimemwambia hivyo na ninarudia hapa. That's me, what you see is what you get.
Huyu aliyeleta hii thread alete mtiririko wote wa mjadala na sio kipande kimoja tu cha mjadala na kuspin atakavyo yeye na wengi humu mmeingia katika mtego wake bila hata kuhoji