God is in the details…

A new hope

Its just after 5 o’ clock in the morning on February 17th 2018. Last night our new President Cyril Ramaphosa gave his first State of the Nation address. For the first time in nearly a decade, South Africans are filled with hope. The Jacob Zuma era, is over. 9 years of lying, stealing, bullshitting and laughing at the nation he swore to protect and defend, are over. Like with removal of Robert Mugabe, I keep wanting to pinch myself just to check that this is real, that it isn’t some dream that I’ll wake up from and discover that these 2 major events didn’t happen. Mugabe tore Zimbabwe apart for 37 years, Zuma tore SA apart for 9. Now both countries are rebuilding. Zimbabwe has quite a journey ahead of it as does South Africa. But eat least the journeys have begun.

I will never understand why dictators choose to rape and loot their own countries as opposed to building them up. I suppose it’s true that absolute power does indeed corrupt absolutely. Men of weak character are easily addicted to power and all the so called benefits that comes with having power. And as time passes, they seem to see their actions as being in the best interests of their countries and the people over which they rule. When the time comes for them to step down, their addiction to power is such that they just can’t let go.

But for now, there are 2 less of these vile creatures in power. Hopefully other countries infested with this blight will see what’s happened here and in Zimbabwe and strive to remove the shackles placed on them by corrupt leaders and the supporters that keep in them power. Maybe one day, this continent from Cape to Cairo will be one where democracy reigns and everyone is free at last.

One can only hope.

Time to draw a line in the sand, because that’s all that’s left

These are not my words, but they struck a chord with me especially in light of what’s happening here in South Africa and what is being debated by the ruling part whose only goal ahead of the elections in 2019 is to stay in power no matter what it costs.

I can confirm the veracity of the story laid out below. It comes a week after the Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa gave investors in South Africa who pledged $4 billion in new investment, an assurance that land invasions were over and property rights would be respected. This was the immediate response to that statement – which I believe is Government Policy and the only explanation I can give for this behavior is faction fighting within Zanu PF itself. Whatever the reason, from every perspective – natural justice, constitutional law, human rights, common sense, the national interest – this behavior is totally unacceptable and the Bishop and his thugs MUST be brought to book and the Smart family restored to their homes.

Eddie Cross

MP for Bulawayo South


The Bishop and the land grab

Ben Freeth |

05 July 2017

Ben Freeth tells the story of the takeover of the Smart family’s farm east of Harare

Zimbabwe: Jambanja by Bishop Trevor Manhanga

Another high profile cleric takes over a white-owned farm and evicts farm workers

I spent several hours with three shell-shocked generations of the Smart family last week who have been violently evicted from their farm in the Rusape district east of Harare by a top cleric, Bishop Trevor Manhanga, Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe church.

The handling of the on-going eviction story of the Smart family and their workers by this prominent bishop is fundamental to understanding where we are – and more particularly where the church is – in our dealing with justice and injustice in Zimbabwe today.  I encourage this report to be sent to Christians and church leaders both inside and outside Zimbabwe. The church ought to be the moral conscience of the nation, and it needs to act immediately.

The facts of the case – very briefly – as relayed by the Smarts and others are as follows:

The Smart family bought Lesbury and other farms in the Rusape district and developed them over the last 80 years. By the year 2000, they had bought approximately 8,000 hectares of land which they were farming very productively.

Soon after the land invasions began in 2000, they came to an agreement with government, offering 90 percent of their land to government and retaining 700 hectares – of which only 120 hectares is arable. No compensation was paid for the land they gave up, but the government agreed that they could continue cropping on the remaining 120 hectares left to them.

The Tandi people who traditionally reside in the district have a good relationship with the Smarts as neighbours and they have coexisted very successfully.

In 2016, approximately fifteen years after the government agreed that the Smarts could continue farming on their much reduced land area, Bishop Manhanga arrived with an offer letter – but no demarcation map – and said he was taking over 100 hectares of the remaining 700 hectares of Lesbury. [An offer letter is a letter signed by the Minister of Lands offering a certain piece of “acquired” land to a “beneficiary.” This piece of paper gives the offer letter holder carte blanche to do what it takes to force the owners of the property out of their home/s and take –with no compensation- many of their movable assets as well, including tractors, implements, seed, fertilizer, chemicals, diesel, etc.]

The Bishop returned under cover of darkness and, together with the lands officer, painted trees to demarcate what he wanted, but failed to come to the Smarts to tell them what he had demarcated for himself. It appears that he also demarcated the homesteads for himself.

On subsequent visits, Bishop Manhanga told the Smarts that he was sick and tired of white people and threatened the Smarts with jambanja. [A jambanja involves barricading farmers and farm workers into their homes, lighting fires, threats of violence, actual violence, including often vicious beatings and depriving animals of food and water for days on end, or even brutalising them.]

Bishop Manhanga then sent a wooden cabin with his workers to establish a presence on the farm.

The Smarts’ workers were angry that their homes and livelihoods were being threatened by the Bishop and, of their own volition, immediately took the cabin down and sent it back.

An expensive Toyota Land Cruiser

Towards the end of 2016, Bishop Manhanga arrived in a new, very expensive black Toyota Land Cruiser with the number plate “PAOZ 1”. (The Bishop is evidently “number 1” in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe church and was using a church vehicle to carry out his jambanja). He erected a new cabin in front of the Smarts’ homestead gate. It was a weekend and the Smarts’ workers had just been paid. When one of the workers hit the farm assembly siren button, a running battle began with the Smarts’ workers and the Bishop’s workers over re-erection of the cabin.

The police immediately arrested Rob Smart and his son, Darryn, and put them in a jail cell in Rusape police station where they were forced to sleep on the cold concrete. Rob is 71 years old.

Over the next few months it became clear to the Smarts that Bishop Manhanga and Inspector Nyakawedzwa of the Rusape police were working together. The Bishop was referred to as “boss” by the Inspector and from there on the Smarts had to answer charge after charge in the magistrates’ court – none of which they have been convicted of. This harassment by the police has all been instigated by the Bishop.

On one occasion in April 2017, when the Smarts were not present on the farm, the Bishop got into an altercation with the Smarts’ workers and in driving off, Bishop Manhanga smashed into an old lady called Servilia, knocking her over and leaving her bruised on the side of the road.

Inspector Nyakawedzwa came out immediately and tried to arrest Rob Smart on charges of intent to cause grievous bodily harm to Bishop Manhanga. Fortunately the Smarts’ lawyer intervened and the inspector discovered the truth of the situation. However, the Bishop was not arrested for knocking over the old lady or failing to assist her.

Since the Tandi people do not want the Bishop on Lesbury farm, one of their community leaders, Peter Tandi, has taken the Bishop to court, seeking that the acquisition of Lesbury farm be declared unlawful. The case is still before the court and lawyers are confident that no eviction can therefore take place.

On May 31, 2017 however, the messenger of the court arrived on the farm to hand an eviction notice to Rob Smart. Rob had not received a summons and had never been asked to appear in court over this eviction. He contacted his lawyer who told him that the process was flawed as there should be a court case where he could present his arguments if eviction was imminent.

Shortly afterwards, when Rob Smart was not present, police arrived. They broke into the office and ransacked it, even breaking into the safe. When the workers tried to resist, teargas was fired.

The riot squad arrives

After the police left, Rob returned to his house but police officers arrived again in force with 16 riot police, all heavily armed, as well as numerous other policemen and thugs. They ransacked Rob’s and his son Darryn’s houses. Police officers took Rob’s mobile phone so he couldn’t make calls to his lawyer or anyone else, or take photos and video the damage that was being done. His phone still hasn’t been returned to him.

When they came to Darryn’s house, Darryn demanded to see the paperwork that allowed them to evict him, insisting there was no eviction order for him, but police said they didn’t need paperwork.

Darryn’s small sons became hysterical as policemen barged in. They didn’t even manage to take any of their prized Lego or their much loved teddy bears before retreating into the hills on the farm for safety. It was clear to Darryn that the police knew what they were doing on the Bishop’s behest was wrong because some of the officers actually apologised before the Smarts were forced to flee.

From the hills where they were hiding out, the Smarts heard numerous shots fired by police. Some of their workers fled into the hills to join them and told them that the police were also evicting them from their houses. A number of them had been wounded. They said the Smarts must retreat further into the hills as the police were after them. Even old women were hit by police and the thugs.

The police finally left at 8 pm after 10 hours of shocking violence and brutality.

The Smarts managed to sneak back to their homes that night to find their possessions smashed or stolen. They heard that the messenger of court herself had been seen taking the children’s toys and packing them into her car.

The next day Bishop Manhanga sent a thug called Munjati to the farm, together with other thugs who were all armed with guns. A tyre was shot out on one of the Smarts’ vehicles while they were trying to retrieve their possessions before getting off the farm. The thugs also dragged large logs across the road to block entry to the property.

Animals denied food

The Smarts were unable to even feed their animals and when members of the ZNSPCA came out from Harare to the farm, they were forced to leave without gaining access to the animals.

Eventually Veterinarians for Animal Welfare in Zimbabwe (VAWZ) managed to rescue the two horses, but all of the 100 chickens had died and the families’ pet cats could not be found.

Although it’s now mid winter in Zimbabwe and the Rusape area is very cold at night, the Smarts’ workers have been forced to sleep out in the open in the hills because they are too afraid to return to the farm. Food that was sent to the farm for the workers was taken by Bishop Manhanga’s thugs. The school that the Smarts built, which accommodated 250 children, has been closed down and the farmer workers’ children now have no access to education.

The maize contracted under the Government’s “Command Agriculture” scheme and grown by the Smarts cannot be reaped by them. Over 50,000 kgs of tobacco also remain on the farm, as well as all the tools of the farming trade. The Smarts are unable to even set foot back on the farm for fear of being shot by the Bishop’s men.

The farm supports a very large number of people as the workers look after not only their own families but also their extended families since more than 95 percent of the population is unemployed. The workers need to be paid – and they know the Bishop will not do so.

So why is this different from the thousands of other evictions that have taken place since 2000 when the farm invasions began? Why is it a litmus test for Zimbabwe as a whole?

The difference in this case is that it is a standing and very influential bishop who is taking the property.  He is a former President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe – the church body of which most other churches are members.

The church should be the moral compass

Individual churches – and the church as a whole – should be the moral conscience of a nation. Accordingly, they have to decide whether the conduct of the Bishop is in keeping with Christian values and God’s commandments.

The church cannot continue to stand on the side lines when one of its own leaders is now inextricably involved in the very activity of greed and lawlessness that has created so much poverty and heartache in Zimbabwe.

If the church, by its silence, decides that the Bishop has not acted wrongly, it opens the door for a continuation of this kind of barbarity.

I would suggest that the church has to ask three questions because Zimbabweans require answers:

1. Is it acceptable for people to take homes and livelihoods because the government says it can? In this case we also need to ask: has the Bishop got other homes? To this the answer is clearly yes. He has at least two homes and a cottage in and around the city of Mutare, as well as a small farm and a home in Harare in the upmarket suburb of Highlands. He may have more. Why is acceptable for him to take other people’s homes, particularly those of people with no other homes, and leave people without jobs or incomes? Does the church believe this to be right?

2. Has the Bishop acted lawfully? It seems clear to me that he hasn’t – even under Zimbabwe law. With the connivance of the police, it appears he has taken the law into his own hands and evicted hundreds of people without eviction orders and a proper court process, in a manner that is violent and wrong. The church needs to pronounce on whether it believes Bishop Manhanga has acted lawfully.

3. Even if the church believes the Bishop has followed Zimbabwean law, does the church believe that Zimbabwean law is in conformity with God’s law? Is eviction on the basis of race acceptable? Is the taking of property without paying for it something the church in Zimbabwe believes is right? Does God’s law not trump Zimbabwean law when it says “thou shalt not covet” (tenth commandment) and “thou shalt not steal” (eighth commandment)? The Bishop has demonstrably coveted what is not his – and then stolen it.

Interestingly, many individuals in Zimbabwe have already castigated Bishop Manhanga’s actions on Facebook, for example: “Bishop Manhanga, please save us this disgrace. You have sacrificed your integrity on the altar of greed” – Lloyd Nyarota.

The church has a duty to answer these questions. It cannot remain silent on these burning issues indefinitely.

Ben Freeth is Executive Director of the Mike Campbell Foundation, Zimbabwe

Alien: Covenant

So yesterday I watched the new Alien movie. After the mess that was Prometheus, I hoped that this one would put the franchise back on track. Being both a huge fan of the franchise and Ridley Scott. To give you some context, I am a huge fan of movies overall, and have a very basic way of determining if I liked a movie or not. The way I do this is to examine how I feel within the first few minutes of leaving the theater –  assuming no one ruined the experience by talking, using their phone or eating popcorn with their mouths open through said movie. as the credits began to roll on AC, I felt disappointed with the  direction the director and writers had elected to take the movie in. There are no spoilers here – just in case you were wondering.

There is a huge disconnection between the very first Alien movie and Prometheus made wider with AC. Often, with prequels, we’ve seen writers and directors struggle to get into the heads of their predecessors and guide the ship so to speak. The end of AC may be able to save the prequel series if a third movie is made. But for now, I think I’ll re-watch the  originals and enjoy them just like I did all those years ago, when I watched them on video – at least now, I can watch them in all their blu ray glory.

You’ve been drinking water all wrong – new study proves we’re all sheep

Assisting the ANC to reflect on the 2016 Election results


If my opinion offends you, don’t unfriend me, tell me, I can deal with it.

Pete, I wish you nothing but the best in life dude.

This chapter – is now closed.

Max Du Preez ‘sanitises history’ – I disagree

SA has so much potential, that is being squandered by very very poor leadership.

A united SA could be a true powerhouse on this continent – we have it all, the brains, the brawn and the resources – what we lack, is the political will, to see that every single person, has a roof over their heads, a hot meal in their stomachs and a hot shower every day.

Instead, the current leadership has chosen to lash the minority for the sins of the past and use them at every opportunity as the blame for all that ails SA. And introduce more laws than any other country in the world – to protect the majority from the minority.

Apartheid was a system created by evil men to ensure an impossible future. BUT IT’S GONE NOW, only the dust and the skeletons remain. BUT, a new form of apart-hate is taking root as the ANC, run by Zuma, is fast becoming a dictatorship as it changes laws, ignores it own courts and hires and fires people and does not deem it necessary to explain the rationale behind decisions that kick our economy in a place that really hurts it.

It’s time we voted with our brains and not our prejudices. It’s time we held the government accountable for the reckless manner in which it conducts itself. Before they usher in a new dark age, like Mugabe did in Zimbabwe.

It’s time we stopped fighting and started building, building a future for EVERYONE, not just those on the gravy train. You can’t CHANGE the past, but you CAN learn from it.


It’s the fifth day of January 2016.

2015 was a blur of a year. It was a year of stark contrasts. From movies that set records, and one that is continuing to shatter records. A disappointing cricket world cup, and a not so bad rugby world cup. The end of winter and the start of a very long heatwave, which shows no signs of letting up. Rain has fallen, but not in the quantities we need or the places we need it the most. Drought threatens.

I believe that the world is in the mess it’s in because we elected politicians instead of leaders, and those ‘leaders’ have lead the world down down a very dark path. Wars and rumors of wars abound.

In South Africa our genius of a president fired the minister of finance because he was doing such a great job – this act wiped a shit load of money off our countries worth. Then after begging the genius, he recalled an old favorite, redeployed the new guy, and plugged yet another hole that he’d hammered into the dam wall. Our currency soared to record lows and is still there.

South Africa faces a local election in a few months time, I’m hoping, but am not optimistic that the mindless masses that usually cast their vote in favor of the ANC will by now realise that the party they voted for, is now being run [into the ground] by a dictator – his every word and action only serve to reinforce this fact. I spent a week in George last year. It was quite an amazing experience. It’s hard to believe that one can travel to a first world country, that’s in YOUR OWN country – the only difference being is that it’s run by a different political party. Then I got home, back to the traffic chaos and the rubbish that is pretty much everywhere.

The Yanks will also go the polls as it’s time to elect a new president – I haven’t really followed this ‘race’ as I am very disappointed by the lame duck that currently sits in that chair – I had very high hopes for Obama.

This year, there are a lot of movies coming out, a lot of them are superhero movies and oddly enough, most of them are about superhero wars – ironic, art imitating life ?

I read a lot of good books last year, spent some time by the sea, followed the news with a growing sense of horror, dropped my Kindle in the sea [and fixed it courtesy of some good advice from my sister in law and a guy who posted a fix that sounded like a load of crap, but wasn’t].

2016 is going to be a tough one, on every possible front. Here’s hoping that we’ll emerge from it, alive and better people, and with a lot less dictator scum on our planet.

If you’re reading this – may the force be with you my friend.



Malema sends warning to whites

Yesterday saw the EFF marching and handing over a list of demands – you can read them in the link below. At 12 o’ clock there was a mass exodus of people out of Sandton as this was where the march was due to end. Anyone who works in Sandton will tell you that the exit that started at 12 yesterday, was chaotic to say the least. Sandton early this morning, was littered with the remnants of the march.

Malema is obviously a very intelligent person and is very articulate. But he is very much the opportunist and just as lazy as those he seeks to unseat. Since being sworn in, he and his gang of sycophants have not done a single days work that has actually been of benefit to our wounded country. His soldiers have gridlocked parliament and have been thrown out of parliament almost every time the ANC is stupid+ enough to hold a session.

The whole student fees must fall we want everything for free debacle, hit the ANC in its tiny little balls. As its top brass made a run for it when things got ugly during the mini budget speech. Their actions serving only to embolden Malema like a shark smelling blood in the water.

What is most disturbing of all, is that the rhetoric of both the ANC and the EFF is now distinctly racist in nature as next years local elections hurtle towards us and aimed at their favorite punching bag – the white folks. What they fail to realise is that the ‘whites’ generate most of the taxes that are stolen or handed out as grants to the very people who will then ensure that the ANC stay in power. But I digress.

Malema is appealing to the crowd the same way his role model Mugabe did – by promising them things that he can’t deliver, or, if he delivers them, it’s game over for South Africa. He is the worst of both Mugabe and Zuma, in a MUCH younger body.

The bitter irony here is that all the ANC has to do to remedy the situation, is deliver on its promises. But it is so concerned about staying in power, that it will literally do ANYTHING to stay in power. It has formed alliances with both China and Russia in an effort to ensure [I believe] that if the shit hits the fan, the commies will come running to protect their new BFF.

Russia and China and both shining lights when it comes to how not to treat your people, and it seems both the ANC and the EFF want to emulate this practice in SA.

Sadly, apart-hate isn’t dead, it’s just under new management, and has stolen so much money, that the only way to keep the proverbial lights on, is to hike every single tax in sight.

So we are now officially an oppressed minority.

Fight the future – live FREE or DIE.


The Self Destruct Button

In the past two weeks we have seen Zanu PF virtually tearing itself apart and in the process it is sealing the fate of the country. I have never seen the country in such a state of despair and despondency. Last week I was on a plane to Kenya and spoke to a businessman who was on his way to a lodge on the Zambezi in Zambia to spend a few days fishing and relaxing. He said to me that he simply had to get away. He has closed his factory and put it onto a care and maintenance basis as they could not cope with the power outages.

We have a new Minister of Indigenisation and I think he has been smoking Mbanje. He has announced a series of meetings with people to discuss his strategy – he plans a massive “levy” (tax) on business to fund the acquisition of a majority controlling stake in all “foreign” owned business. The new levy, coming on top of a myriad of other levies and taxes, will cripple existing firms who are going to be forced to pay (indigenous firms are exempt) and you can imagine the excitement at the feeding trough as locally politically connected individuals get an opportunity to take control of successful business enterprise at no cost to themselves.

The company owners so dispossessed, will take their money and run, because we are dollarized they will not be as badly off as the commercial farmers have been, but they will still only get a small fraction of the real value of their life’s work and have to start afresh somewhere else. You think I am being alarmist, think again. Whoever imagined that the State here would forcibly and illegally take over some $30 billion in farm assets, without compensation and in the process destroy the leading agricultural industry in Africa? But they have done it.

What is left of the formal economy will simply close down – unable to borrow money because no one trusts the new “owners” and in any event – what sort of security will they have in a politically volatile State where at the whim of a politician, your legal rights can be completely disregarded, assets pillaged without adequate of legal compensation. The Minister will argue that this is legal – it is the “law” even though it violates the constitution and every possible aspect of natural justice.

To compound the problems created by this new drive to implement the original intentions of the indigenisation laws, the advice given to Mr. Mugabe when he paid a State visit to China that he must set up an orderly, planned succession for the post of the President; must change his economic policies because they are “not catching fish”; and must repair his fractured relations with the major western powers, are simply being ignored. Instead he continues to play games, like a senile old man, with everyone. One minute he is pushing Mr. Mnangagwa forward, the next its Mr. Mpoko, then it’s his wife who seems to take center stage and the bizarre spectacle of Grace at a rally in the Eastern Highlands handing out tractors and groceries in such quantities that many could not carry them home, is just absurd.

As the center of power in Zimbabwe, which has dominated and controlled the country since 1980, disintegrates, no new center is being established in an orderly way, instead we have a crude form or war lordism – factions which seek to secure their grip on power for themselves, even though they have no constituency or legitimacy.  This is a completely different game to the one that was played between Zanu PF and the MDC up to 2013, this is much more deadly and involves people on all sides with weapons and money and completely unprincipled avarice.

Suddenly the one thing that has held this country together seems at risk – our social, political and physical stability. Although we have been a State at war with itself for 35 years, only now have elements come into play with the means and the determination to take whatever steps are required to assume control of what is left of Zimbabwe. Like a pack of hyenas seeking to take a carcass away from an elderly lion.

In 1976 I felt the same way about Rhodesia. I was a senior executive in a very large organisation led by a brilliant Board of Directors. The war was intensifying and there was no sign of any change of heart by any of our political leaders. Ian Smith was totally in charge, totally determined to fight on. The Nationalist leadership inside and outside the country simply wanted him to carry on fighting, knowing full well that in the end they would win and take over what was left. Thinking Rhodesians could see no future and the flight of tens of thousands was underway to other countries.

I went to My Chairman for advice and he said to me “Eddie, the only thing you and I can do is come to work tomorrow and carry out our responsibilities to the best of our ability”. I was deeply disappointed in the advice but as I matured, I recognised the wisdom and I did just what he advised.

In this present situation – much worse that in 1976 or 2008, there is little we can do to change the course of events. You can take flight and pack up and leave for greener pastures where life is more predictable and safe. Or you can do what we have done, determine that as Africans, as citizens of Zimbabwe, we have every right to stay and to operate here and to make our views known. I was regarded in 1976 as an “enemy of the State” for my political and economic views. The same can be said of me today, but I am not going to change or flee to safer climes. Instead I choose to do what Willy Margolis advised nearly 50 years ago – go about your business and do it to the best of your ability.

In the case of Rhodesia it was Henry Kissinger, in September 1 976, who came into the situation and brought about the essential changes that were necessary to eventually end the war and bring us to Independence. In a way the same situation exists today but it is unlikely, even impossible, that any major Western State would choose to expend precious political and economic power on trying to break the deadlock here. The motivation is just not there.

It is only South Africa and the former “Front Line States” in the SADC that have the power and the reason to take action to prevent this country from self destruction the way Kissinger and Mbeki did in 1976 and 2007. Will they do so? I doubt because of the nature of political leadership in the region and the character of intergovernmental relations in Africa.

If that is the case then we had better prepare for tough times ahead. The self destruct button is firmly in the hands of those who are fully prepared to use it and if they do, the consequences for all of us are going to be tough medicine.

Eddie Cross

Harare 21st October 2015

Received by email from: EG Cross