Judegment Day At The High Court London

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

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Norweigan government ignores correspondence on corruption in Tanzania

The most melancholy thing about human nature, is, that a man may guide others into the path of salvation, without walking in it himself; that he may be a pilot, and yet a castaway. 

Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Norway is familiar with high levels of corruption in Tanzania and the issue of Norwegian aid to Tanzania was in the headlines again in 2013 when Norway stopped aid to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism after allegations of corruption and missing aid.
However it seems that some elements of corruption may be acceptable to the Norwegian Government i.e. when it comes to the conduct of the rich and powerful in Tanzania and men like Reginald Mengi.
Reginald Mengi is a rich and powerful media owner in Tanzania. He is also corrupt. He was found by the London High Court in December 2012 to have been complicit in the corruption of his brother Benjamin to steal the lease to Silverdale & Mbono Farms in the Hai District of the Kilimanjaro Region in Tanzania from British investors Sarah Hermitage and Stewart Middleton. He and his witnesses were found to have lied to and misled the court and Reginald Mengi himself was found to have probably met the threshold for the crime of criminal libel in Tanzania should the authorities wish to prosecute him. Of course they have not.
In December The East Africa Association of Grantmakers honoured Mengi with the East Africa Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award for 2013 stating “This Award is normally given out to individuals for having committed their lives and demonstrated their passion to philanthropy work in the region......it is bestowed on people having made great contributions to the wellbeing of humanity and the society they live in.” Seemingly those also complicit in corruption and the destruction of bona fide investment in Tanzania.
 Norway's Ambassador to Tanzania, Ingunn Klepsvik, presents East Africa Association of Grantmakers' Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award to Dr Reginald Mengi

The award was bestowed on Mr Mengi at a dinner in a Dar es Salaam by Norway's Ambassador to Tanzania Ingunn Klipsvik.
The following email was sent to Ambassador Klepsvik in respect of the presentation and a separate email was also send to Norway's Foreign Minister Børge Brende. Neither has had the courtesy to acknowledge receipt of the correspondence which is self-explanatory
Børge Brende at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2008.jpg
Norway's Foreign Minister Børge Brende
Dear Ambassador Klepsvik,

I write to you somewhat distressed.

Norway is renowned for its anti corruption stance and ranks exceptionally favourably on Transparency International's Corruption index and is familiar with the high levels of corruption in Tanzania.

On Wednesday 4th December at a dinner in Dar es Salaam you presented Reginald Mengi a Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award on behalf of the  East Africa Association of Grantmakers.

This is an organisation that by its own Internet publication states it is committed to developing and strengthening partnerships with governments, civil society, the private sector and development partners with values of transparency and accountability, integrity and is committed to principles of trustworthiness and incorruptibility guided by honesty and of moral conduct.

It is inconceivable that you are not aware of the circumstances of the Silverdale Farm issue in Tanzania.

In 2004 my husband Stewart Middleton and I invested in Tanzania. We purchased a 45-year lease to Silverdale & Mbono farms, situated in the Hai District of the Kilimanjaro Region from Benjamin Mengi, brother to Reginald Mengi.My husband strategically planned the rehabilitation of the farms into a sustainable and profitable operation, to train and develop a skilled workforce that would persist long after his stewardship of the land. Within the first six months the farms were transformed from derelict and commercially-unproductive land into a productive farming operation employing over 150 Tanzanians from the local community and we were the first farms in Tanzania to earn EUREPGAP accreditation.

One year after the assignment, Benjamin Mengi demanded the lease back, stating he had not been paid in full. This was despite the fact that 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 and harassment was then unleashed against us, facilitated by the police and judiciary and involving a plethora of State institutions. This included:

The refusal of the authorities to register our lease or recognise our Deed of Assignment;

The destruction of commercial contracts;

Violence to, and the imprisonment of, our key operational  staff; and

The constant harassment arrest, and ultimate imprisonment, of my husband on trumped-up charges.

Benjamin Mengi drove us from Tanzania using the courts, judiciary and government ministers in a campaign of violence and corruption. Despite five years of effort by the British Government, through its High Commission in Dar es Salaam and senior government ministers in London, this criminal conduct remains unchecked despite the personal promises of President Kikwete and his Foreign Minister Bernard Membe that the rule of law would be upheld in this case and we would be compensated for our losses.

Reginald Mengi was complicit in this corruption that destroyed our investment and drove us in fear of our lives from Tanzania by abusing his power.

I posted such accusations on my web site when I was forced by his corruption to return to England. He then sued me for libel in the London High Court where according to my counsel "he beat me over the head until I submited" and I would not.

Reginald Mengi bombarded the court with his Tanzanian witnesses and his lawyer Mr Nguma. The judge ruled that Reginald Mengi and his witnesses lied to and misled the UK High Court and found him to be complicit in the corruption of his brother Benjamin in his attempts to steal our property. He also found that he had probably committed Criminal Libel under Tanzanian law should the Tanzanian authorities wish to prosecute. Mr Mengi appealed the judgement three times and was refused the appeal on the basis that he lied to the court and he has been refused an application to the Supreme Court. I attached the judgement of the case and a press release from my lawyers.

Mr Mengi was ordered to pay costs on an indemnity basis and I believe his costs were in excess of £3,000,000.

Whilst this case is not about personalities; it is about the systematic abuse of law and theft of our investment facilitated by government agencies and powerful men like Reginald Mengi. It is interesting to note that President Kikwete has not condemned Reginald Mengi’s (or his brother’s corruption) in this case.

Your action has validated the reputation of Reginald Mengi both to Tanzanians and the outside wold.This undermines the bravery and suffering of our former Tanzanian staff and every human rights activist attempting to reinforce civil society and the rule of law in Tanzania. You have validated a liar, thief and a cheat and demonstrated that its OK to be corrupt if you are rich and powerful. Respectfully this is indefensible and an indicement on the integrity of Norway's commitment to fighting corruption.

 My husband and I are two private citizens of one member-state of the European Union. I write to you as the representative of another European member-state in Tanzania because I believe that you and all EU governments are collectively interested in assisting Tanzania to eradicate poverty through development aid, private-sector investment and better governance. Our experience illustrates how the climate of governance in Tanzania discourages private investment. It also works against the promotion of the well-being of Tanzania’s own citizens.

Favouritism, wide-spread abuse of power, corruption of the legal system, a weak and unreliable application of the rule of law, and lack of respect for the freedoms of the media and the rights of citizens have all been demonstrated by our experience. These things are one ball of wax: the Tanzanian authorities should not treat some people worse than others on a whim. Nor can foreigners be treated differently from citizens, if their legal residence and their properly-regulated businesses are to work for the benefit of society and of themselves.

Our experience is an affront to European common values, our willingness to assist the ordinary citizen in Tanzania to a better life, and is an impediment to Tanzania’s forward progress. The facts in our case are clear and not disputed. I ask you to consider the argument that EU development and investment policies should not be formulated as if our story had not happened or is of no importance.

Reginald Mengi facilitated what happened to us. What has happened to us will be repeated, and probably still is to others, unless the authorities are challenged. You have not made that challenge and have in effect condoned what happened to us and our former Tanzanian staff and on any level, diplomatic or otherwise, this is indefensible.

 I simply cannot understand why Norway would behave in such a way.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Hermitage.


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