Judegment Day At The High Court London

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

Friday, 24 October 2014

Tanzania: The Politics of Hypocrisy


 
With traditional energy markets embroiled in conflict and subsequent unreliability, world powers are turning to Africa to secure the natural resources required to fuel their economies. However, this new scramble for Africa brings further conflict, the conflict between civil society and profit.

In August, President Obama hosted the United States-Africa Leaders Summit’ in Washington DC: A summit, to provide an opportunity for the Obama administration to open a new chapter in U.S-Africa relations. Journalist Martin LeFevre states the Obama Administration had two aims. To change the narrative about Africa and open the Continent to American business providing an alternative to China’s extractive, no-strings-attached model. “We don’t look to Africa simply for its natural resources. We recognize Africa for its greatest resource which is its people and its talents and its potential,” President Obama intoned unconvincingly.

The problem however, as Helen Epstein points out in her piece entitled “Africa’s Slide Toward Disaster,” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/02/opinion/africas-slide-toward-disaster.html?_r=0) is that whilst the summit sought to highlight Africa’s development successes and promote trade and investment on a continent rich in oil and natural resources, Justice and the rule of law weren’t on the agenda.  A view forcefully reiterated by Hassan Shire Executive Director of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project who points out that some of the attending heads of state acquired or entrenched power by unconscionable means. Many have brutally repressed the rights of their own citizens and systematically targeted independent civil society voices that seeking to hold them to account.  It is these voice Epstein states, so vital to Africa’s development, that were largely excluded from the substantive discussions about America’s role in Africa’s future.

Whilst there is no shortage of corporates, donors and world leaders engaging in politics of the sieve with African leaders thereby nurturing a culture of impunity, the day will come when they will be faced with a choice between nepotistic interest and principles of civil society. This will be a serious choice.  As Epstein states, lavishing billions of dollars in military and development aid on African states while failing to promote justice, democracy and the rule of law, American policies have fostered a culture of abuse and rebellion which must change before the continent is so steeped in blood that there’s no way back.

With the rise of terror organisation such as ISIS and al shabaab in times when the United States and Western governments vehemently trumpet their commitment to the protection of human rights in countries where such organizations operate, how is this rhetoric consistent with their eagerness to do business with African regimes that abuse human rights on just about every level? How much will be too much if at all, for companies such as BG Group Tanzania to pay for gas or for Ophir Energy to pay for oil. More importantly when will governments such as the United Kingdom place their rhetorical concern for human rights above British business interests.

In a speech to the British Chamber of Commerce in March of this year, former British Foreign Secretary William Hague told business leaders that extra effort was required to maintain British prosperity, standards of living, and sources of jobs for the next generation. We are tackling our problems at home and using foreign policy to seek out new economic opportunity for our country he said. But at what cost?

In April Hague met President Kikwete in London commending him on Tanzania’s growing partnership with the UK on human rights and good governance. Yet due to the high levels of corruption in Tanzania, the administration of justice is not fit for purpose. The very institutions mandated to protect the rights of the people are, through a culture of corruption and impunity, used to deny them.  It is as if Justice is bought and sold on the open market. Those who don’t have access to power do not have access to justice. Importantly, Tanzania is not recorded as a country for concern in respect of human rights by the British government. This presents a clear dichotomy between the UK government's praise of the Kikwete regime and the reality on the ground in Tanzania.

In November 2012 UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper published an article written by its then Assistant City Editor Jonathan Russell claiming it had seen a letter sent to DFID by shareholders in UK-listed companies operating in Tanzania asking for part of its £151m aid budget to be used to tackle the growing corruption in the country in order to safeguard UK investments in Tanzania. The letter expressed serious concern for  the “….on-going trend towards deterioration of title, protection of companies basic rights, challenges to agreements made under Tanzania mining code with the Government and seemingly arbitrary demands for “windfall” payments.”  If true, this is a grave indictment indeed, not only on DFIDS development policy but on the Tanzanian government’s willingness and/or capacity to promote a conducive investor environment through the rule of law.

Simply, the UK government does all but lick the boots of Kikwete’s governance yet demonstrates no serious policy of holding said governance to account for its appalling governance and human rights record. Why?

Well a clue is in the remainder of Hague’s speech. He commended the growing partnership between the UK and Tanzania on trade and investment, defence and security and governance noting that it provided significant opportunities for British businesses.  He cited two projects in particular. The signing of a memorandum of understanding between BG Group, Ophir Energy and the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation, on the potential development of a multi-billion pound onshore liquefied natural gas plant; and an agreement between UK company Aldwych International and the Tanzanian authorities on development of a £175 million wind farm.

Whilst the British government continues to lavish praise on Kikwete’s governance ignoring rising corruption and Tanzania’s appalling human rights record, it is nurturing a culture of impunity which will at some point have disastrous consequences upon civil society. As Epstein so aptly states, “the best guarantee of peace and prosperity is justice and indifference to it, for whatever reason creates the very disasters the West wishes to avoid. The West must use all means, including aid cuts, trade sanctions, travel bans and forceful public statements, to punish governments that abuse their own people — before it’s too late”. Her comments could not be more apt in the light of the sweep of organizations such as ISIS and Al Shabaab across the Middle East and Africa.

DFID states and clearly has a duty to show that it is achieving value for money in everything it does and promises the British tax payer results, transparency, accountability and value for money for every pound spent on development. However, research based evidence states that DFID is not meeting its purpose, is failing the British tax payer and the citizens of Tanzania in a manner that begs the question, what is the present quid pro quo in respect of British Aid to Tanzania as it continues to pour billions of dollars of tax payer’s money into a corrupt regime with an appalling human rights record.

Director of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders America Hassan Shire, reminds us of the obvious, i.e. human rights, democracy, free and fair elections, and the rights to freedoms of expression, association, and assembly are not western constructs. They are universal human rights, belonging to Africans just as much as they belong to the West. Failing to hold corrupt governments to account in a manner demonstrated by British foreign policy in Tanzania i.e. by politics of hypocrisy, denies those rights and erodes civil society and the rule of law.

This is indefensible both in respect of the British Tax payer and the people of Tanzania.



 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Tullow Oil Uganda v Silverdale Farm,Tanzania.


In 2012 Tullow Oil became engaged in a commercial dispute in Uganda regarding capital gains tax. Following the 2012 completion of the farm-down of 66 per cent of its’ exploration interests it was issued with a capital gains tax assessment of $472m. Tullow disputed the assessment.
There is no intention here to comment on the details of the dispute save to say there was/is one, it involving considerable sums of money and direct lobbying to President Museveni on the company’s behalf by the British government.
In  2004 British investors Sarah Hermitage and Stewart Middleton invested in the agricultural sector in Tanzania purchasing the lease to Silverdale and Mbono Farms just outside the town of Moshi in the Kilimanjaro area of Tanzania. They purchased the lease from Benjamin Mengi brother to IPP Media owner Reginald Mengi.
Stewart Middleton was born and raised in Zambia and he is an agronomist of note and an expert in small holder farming. His plans for the farms were to obtain EurepGAP certification as a matter of priority. EurepGAP certification improves market access to the European Union. Obtaining such certification is a rigorous and complex process, and is crucial for exporting internationally, particularly to the European Union. Achieving certification involves meeting rigid requirements regarding food safety (i.e., traceability of food source, limited use of fertilizers, and product handling), environmental standards (i.e., waste management, pollution management, and site management), and social responsibility (i.e., appropriate facilities for employees, health and safety standards, and grievance procedures). No farm in Tanzania had obtained EurepGAP certification at the time.
Middleton’s investments in infrastructure and his farm management skills immediately began to transform unproductive land into a revenue-generating, productive commercial farm. Within one year Silverdale was employing approximately 150 local employees and was realizing significant net monthly revenues from crop exports alone. Silverdale and Mbono Farms under Middleton’s  management were indeed the first farms in Tanzania to receive EurepGAP accreditation. Whilst the investors did not have the economic clout of Tullow Oil, they provided sustainable development in a manner encouraged and promoted by British foreign policy.
Shortly after purchasing the lease and making improvements to the farms Benjamin Mengi began to make demands for more money stating he had not been paid in full for the lease. This despite the fact that he had signed a receipt for full payment in 2004. Mengi threatened Middleton with violence and the revocation of his residence permit if such extra sums were not paid to him and told him he would drive him from Tanzania by any means possible if necessary, cut to pieces in a coffin. The police here Mengi stated “are in my hands”.
Middleton refused to abandon his investment and Mengi began a violent and destructive campaign to force Mr. Middleton from the farms and Tanzania. Mengi made it clear he intended to take the farms back, drive Middleton from the country and keep the money he had been paid for the assignment. His campaign of violence and harassment was facilitated by the government of Tanzania.
The British couple and their Tanzanian staff faced a four year campaign  of escalating violence and harassment, brutal attacks and death threats together with constant unlawful arrest and imprisonment of Middleton and his key Tanzanian staff.  During the same period the farms were systematically vandalised and crops damaged, destroyed and stolen to a point where the farming unit and the couple’s investment were completely destroyed.
Having faced almost five years of violet abuse of law, the couple fled Tanzania in 2009. As they left through the back door for fear of further arrest and imprisonment they were on the telephone to the the deputy British High Commission in Dar es Salaam who stated “so he [Benjamin Mengi] has finally done it has he”.
Reginald Mengi is one of the most powerful and influential men in Tanzania.  Both he and  his brother Benjamin have strong influence in the Kilimanjaro region surrounding their hometown of Machame, including Moshi town. Their influence is national as reflected by the funeral for Benjamin Mengi’s wife, Millie Mengi, in 2010, which was attended by national and regional political figures, including the President of Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete.
In 2012 Reginald Mengi sued Sarah Hermitage in the London High Court for libel in a case described by the judge as oppressive and thought to have cost him in excess of £3 mil. He sued in respect of five postings on this blog (set up to highlight what had happened in Tanzania) 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 Hermitage and her husband as to how they were by threats, intimidation and corruption driven from Tanzania and forced to abandon the investment they had made in Silverdale Farm, of which Benjamin Mengi 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  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 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.
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.”
Hermitage referred to Mengi’s defamatory media campaign as journalistic terrorism. The judge did not agree stating her response had been proportionate, justified and without malice.
Shockingly, as Reginald Mengi sued Hermitage in the London High Court DFID (i.e. the British tax payer) had donated UK aid to IPP’s the Guardian newspaper to improve investigative journalism.
Disregarding the personalities involved in the Silverdale Farm case (which the issues transcend), the case illuminates a fragile and corrupt business environment in Tanzania manipulated by powerful individuals close to the government and President Kikwete which brought about the total destruction of bona fide British investment in a country the British government is promoting as a destination for  investment and with whom it has signed multi million pound energy contracts.
The British government will not lobby President Kikwete on behalf of the investors stating the issue is a commercial dispute and HMG cannot intervene in commercial disputes. Further, it represents the couple have legal proceedings pending in Tanzania which again prevents it from intervening.
Conversely, Her Majesty’s Government takes a different view on the Tullow Oil case: Also a dispute and one where the company did initiate legal proceedings with the government of Uganda. Despite this and mid legal proceedings, the British government intervened at ministerial level and lobbied President Museveni on Tullow’s behalf in order to resolve their dispute.
In fact HMG could not wait to involve themselves in Tullow’s dispute despite their legal proceedings and Whitehall’s diplomatic army  swooped to Tullow’s aid with the following  weaponry:-
“there is a major UK commercial interest at stake here, which is not limited to Tullow. Their success has also been bringing other major UK firms, to the market”.
 “Tullow Oil have hit serious problems which threaten their investment in Uganda.  Recommendation that we intervene urgently at Ministerial level with President”
Of course the British investor’s issues in Tanzania cannot be described appropriately as a dispute. They are issues of abuse of law, denial of access to law, the abuse of human rights, criminality and the failure of state institutions to protect them as foreign investors. Further, the British couple have never issued any legal proceedings against anyone either inside or outside of Tanzania.
That said both of the above inaccuracies continue to be used and trumpeted as reasons for non-intervention in the Silverdale affair by HMG throughout the corridors of Whitehall power. Letters containing the same inaccurate statements (with text containing the same spelling mistakes) rebound from all written requests to the British government from those seeking to support the couple’s attempts to obtain justice.
There is no doubt that the legally inaccurate position articulated by the British government in the face of clear evidence of criminality and abuse of law in the Silverdale case has caused the couple great harm and supports a culture of corruption and impunity in Tanzania.
In the face of the British government’s continuous rhetorical commitment to human rights, good governance ad the protection of its overseas nationals, its refusal to come to the aid of the British couple in Tanzania is objectively indefensible and in the face of the overwhelming assistance it gave to Tullow Oil in Uganda, it is dishonest.
At a meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2013, Sarah Hermitage asked her government to support her in two respects. Firstly, to represent the facts of the Silverdale case in accordance with the law and secondly, to open up senior lines of negotiation with the Tanzanian government in respect of compensation for the theft of their investment in Tanzania to avoid the need to resort to international arbitration.
The British government refused the first request stating  “we cannot interfere with investor disputes” and the second on the grounds that the British High Commissioner in Dar es Salaam Dianna Melrose, did not have the experience to enter into said negotiations on behalf of the couple. In fact HMG placed so little importance on this issue that she was sent to Tanzania un-briefed on the case.
Such indifference is in vivid contrast to the assistance given by the British government in to Tullow Oil in their dispute in Uganda.The CEO of Tullow Oil is Aidan Heavey, a man who has donated more than £50,000 to the Conservative Party. Neither of the British Investors is a Conservative Party donor.
(http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/Politics/article1230960.ece)
Unlike the Tullow Oil case, the Whitehall corridors of power did not swoop to the battle lines to assist the British investors in Tanzania and five tortuous  years have passed for them without assistance from their government.
Information received under the Freedom of Information Act shows that until Mark Simmonds became Minister of Africa in 2012, not one British minister had raised the Silverdale case  with the Tanzanian government and that it is now raised simply to suggest it harms Tanzania’s reputation as a safe country for foreign investors.
The Tanzanian government continues to ignore the British government and the later, in turn, does nothing more. Instead, it has sat back and watched the couple lose their life savings, dragged  through a London High Court libel case and defamed and abused by senior Tanzanian officials and personalities. 
Information received under the Freedom of Information Act on the overwhelming assistance the British government gave Tullow Oil in the resolution of their dispute in Uganda is contained below this article but the following gives a glimpse of how HMG gave overwhelming assistance to the company and directly lobbied President  Museveni in order to resolve their “dispute” :-
The British government’s stand in respect of the Tullow Oil’s dispute was as follows: 1.    Tax disputes could potentially undermine or at least delay  Tullow's interests in Uganda
The criminality in the Silverdale issue destroyed British investment in Tanzania and undermined the British government’s policy and Kikwete's assertions that Tanzania is a safe destination for British FDI. 2.    Henry Bellingham. “It is worth drawing on the important role British business (e.g. Tullow Oil) is currently playing in developing Uganda’s oil and gas sector.
Bellingham dismissed the role the British investors through their company Silverdale TZ played in the reduction of poverty and promotion of sustainable development in Tanzania. 3.    HMG position on the Tullow Oil dispute “to assure Tullow that we want to help them to continue their success in Uganda” HMG position on Silverdale Farm dispute “we cannot involve ourselves with commercial disputes” 4.    Henry Bellingham met and personally lobbied Museveni on Tullow Oil’s behalf. “Very positive visit. Warm welcome too from British business, and useful work done in support of Tullow Oil's investment in Uganda”. Also met with Tullow Oil and appraised them of the efforts MG was making to resolve their “dispute” Not one government minister has ever spoken to either British investor in the Silverdale case in the last five years and HMG refuses to even represent their case in accordance with the laws of Tanzania stating “we cannot involve ourselves in "disputes”. 5.    Henry Bellingham, “My meeting with President Museveni allowed me to raise a specific trade issue, again regarding Tullow Oil. Though better than in DRC, the situation is stuck due to the question of taxes paid by [name withheld], from whom Tullow have bought the rights to the blocks on Lake Albert.” The British investors have never been told of any meeting that has taken place with any member off the British government and president Kikwete.   ____________________________________________________________ Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in the UK in respect of the British government’s intervention in a dispute between Tullow and Heritage Oil in Uganda. Read:- Tax disputes could potentially undermine or at least delay Tullow's interests in Uganda. From: eGrams AD(EAGLS) Sent: 02 July 2010 10:25 To: [names withheld] Subject: FW: UGANDA: OIL ISSUES ------------------------------------------- An update on developments in Uganda’s nascent oil sector. On the commercial front progress has temporarily stalled because of a tax dispute between the government and [name withheld] over the sale of [name withheld] Ugandan assets to Tullow Oil. [information withheld] From KAMPALA Despatched 02/07/2010 08:17:00 GMT Detail 1. [information withheld] Business 2. [name withheld] agreed in December 2009 to sell its stake in Uganda for [information withheld] to [name withheld]. In January 2010 Tullow (50% co-owner of [name withheld]’s two blocks) exercised pre-emption rights to buy [name withheld]’s stake on terms that matched the [name withheld] offer [information withheld]Tullow announced in February a proposed “farm-out” partnership with the [name withheld] [name withheld], which would give all three partners an equal, one-third share in the blocks. 3. [information withheld] Impasse? 4. The government claims that [name withheld] should pay around [information withheld] in capital gains tax on its deal with Tullow. [name withheld] argues that CGT is not applicable to this transaction, based on their interpretation of Uganda’s Income Tax Act and historical precedent (no capital gains tax was paid when Tullow acquired Hardman Oil’s interests in 2007, which were then much less valuable). [information withheld] Regulation 5. [information withheld] Shearman {[name withheld]} [information withheld] RELEVANT EXTRACTS FROM MR BELLINGHAM’S VISIT BRIEF, July 2010 Steering Brief [It is worth drawing on the important role British business (e.g. Tullow Oil) is currently playing in developing Uganda’s oil and gas sector, highlighting in particular the industry specific experience and expertise we have to offer across the spectrum (upstream, downstream and ancillary support services). [information withheld] Meeting with President Yoweri Museveni OUR OBJECTIVES [information withheld] [information withheld] POINTS TO MAKE [information withheld] [information withheld]  Britain has world class companies with expertise in the oil and gas sector, including supporting engineering and professional services. Tullow oil a good example [placeholder for specific ask following your meeting with Tullow that will take place earlier in the day] [information withheld] [information withheld] Meeting at Tullow Oil HQ, Kampala Our Objective To assure Tullow that we want to help them to continue their success in Uganda. Points To Make  We're delighted with Tullow's impressive success in Uganda. [information withheld] Oil Oil Companies 1. Uganda’s oil is located in the Albertine Rift Valley (North East DRC/West Uganda/South Sudan border areas). [name withheld] agreed in December 2009 to sell its stake in Uganda for [information withheld] to [[name withheld]] of Italy, but Tullow (50% co-owner of [[name withheld]]’s two blocks) exercised pre-emption rights in January to buy out [[name withheld]]’s stake on terms that matched the [name withheld] offer. Soon after that they announced a “farm-out” partnership with the [name withheld] and [name withheld], which gives all three partners an equal, one-third share in the blocks. Oil Capacity Tullow Oil has enjoyed a near 100% success rate (only 1 out of 29 wells drilled were abandoned during the period 2006-10). ______________________________________________ From: eGram Gateway Sent: 12 August 2010 18:53 To: [name withheld] Subject: UGANDA: TULLOW OIL UK listed Tullow Oil buys [name withheld]’s Ugandan assets [information withheld] From KAMPALA Despatched 12/08/2010 15:42:00 GMT Detail 1. We reported last month on Uganda’s tax dispute with [name withheld] and on Tullow Oil’s proposed partnership deal with [name withheld] and [name withheld]. At his meeting with Museveni on 23 July, Mr Bellingham made clear the UK’s strong support for Tullow’s engagement in Uganda. [information withheld] 2. On 6 July, Onek (Energy Minister) wrote to Tullow formally approving their acquisition of [name withheld]’s Ugandan assets. [information withheld] 3. [information withheld] 4. [information withheld] 5. [information withheld] 6. [information withheld] Comment 7. [information withheld] 8. A letter from Mr Bellingham following up his recent visit to Uganda would be timely. The letter could cover the Tullow angle, the forthcoming UKTI oil and gas mission to Uganda and other key bilateral issues [information withheld] {[name withheld]} ____________________________________________ From: [name withheld] Sent: 13 August 2010 09:53 To: [names withheld] Cc: Martin Shearman (Restricted); [names withheld] Subject: RE: UGANDA: VISIT OF MINISTER FOR AFRICA - Urgent - Tullow/[name withheld] progress? [name withheld] The attached e-gram (which hasn't yet been distributed throughout the office) has the latest developments on Tullow and the [name withheld] tax situation. [information withheld] A follow-up letter from the Minister could go some way towards achieving that. When will the next opportunity to get a letter sent out from the Minster be? Regards [name withheld] ____________________________________________ From: [name withheld] Sent: 12 August 2010 17:25 To: [names withheld] Cc: Martin Shearman, [name withheld] Subject: RE: UGANDA: VISIT OF MINISTER FOR AFRICA - Urgent - Tullow/[name withheld] progress? Importance: High Thanks - could you provide an update on the Tullow situation by tomorrow 3pm please? [information withheld] If nothing has changed since the Minister's visit, please let us know asap as he wanted to tell the FS that progress was being made after the Museveni meeting and he clearly can't if this is not true! Thanks. [name withheld] ____________________________________________ From: [name withheld] Sent: 12 August 2010 17:13 To: [name withheld] Cc: [name withheld] Subject: FW: UGANDA: VISIT OF MINISTER FOR AFRICA, 21-25 JULY Importance: High [name withheld] We'd like the minister to send a follow-up letter to Sam Kutesa (Uganda's FM). Will there be any opportunity to get a letter signed off before August 27th? [information withheld] The 27th wouldn't necessarily be too late, but from our perspective the sooner that action is taken on this tax dispute the better. Please let me know what you think. Regards [name withheld] ______________________________________________ From: [name withheld] Sent: 03 August 2010 08:32 To: [name withheld] Cc: Martin Shearman (Restricted); [names withheld] Subject: RE: UGANDA: VISIT OF MINISTER FOR AFRICA, 21-25 JULY Importance: High [name withheld] We would recommend a follow up letter from the Minister to Kutesa, with the following elements: [information withheld] Trade [name withheld] Comment: [information withheld] - On Trade, a separate letter from the Minister to the CEO of Tullow (UK) would certainly be appreciated. [information withheld] _____________________________________________ {[name withheld]}Cc: Martin Shearman (Restricted); {[name withheld]} Subject: RE: UGANDA: VISIT OF MINISTER FOR AFRICA, 21-25 JULY:Id=5028598 {[name withheld]} [information withheld] {[name withheld]} ______________________________________________ From: eGrams AD(EAGLS) Sent: 27 July 2010 10:22 To: [names withheld] Subject: FW: UGANDA: VISIT OF MINISTER FOR AFRICA, 21-25 JULY Importance: Low ------------------------------------------- From: eGram Gateway Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 10:21:50 AM To: eGrams eD AD(EAGLS) Subject: UGANDA: VISIT OF MINISTER FOR AFRICA, 21-25 JULY Importance: Low Very positive visit. Warm welcome too from British business, and useful work done in support of Tullow Oil's investment in Uganda. [information withheld] From KAMPALA Despatched 27/07/2010 09:20:00 GMT 1. [information withheld] 2. [information withheld] 3. [information withheld] TRADE 4. [information withheld] Mr Bellingham said that we were strongly supportive of Tullow Oil's involvement in Uganda and hoped that Museveni would take the decisions needed to allow them to get on with their deal with [information withheld] and bring in further investment, [information withheld] 5. Tullow gave Mr Bellingham a full brief on their business, and its potential to transform the Ugandan economy as well as generate significant return to the UK. An interesting roundtable with Tullow and other British business representatives threw up a number of ideas for promoting British business, which we will pursue. [information withheld] SHEARMAN ____________________________________________________ From: Henry Bellingham 10 August 2010 Dear Foreign Secretary 1. [information withheld] DRC would benefit from a deal with Tullow as they intend to build a pipeline to the east coast for oil from the Uganda side of Lake Albert, due to begin flowing in around 18 months time[information withheld] [information withheld] Uganda 2. My meeting with President Museveni allowed me to raise a specific trade issue, again regarding Tullow Oil. Though better than in DRC, the situation is stuck due to the question of taxes paid by [name withheld], from whom Tullow have bought the rights to the blocks on Lake Albert. [information withheld] Consequently, Tullow have concluded the deal with [name withheld], allowing both companies’ share prices to rise by approximately 50p and £1, respectively. [information withheld] Henry Bellingham ______________________________________________________________________ From: eGram Gateway Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 11:19:44 AM To: eGrams eD AD(EAGLS) Subject: UGANDA: TRADE: TULLOW OIL Tullow Oil have hit serious problems [information withheld] which threaten their [information withheld] investment in Uganda. [information withheld] Recommendation that we intervene urgently at Ministerial level with President Museveni. From KAMPALA Despatched 24/08/2010 10:19:00 GMT 1. I have just seen Aidan Heavey, CEO and founder of Tullow Oil. He came from a meeting last night with President Museveni, the aim of which was to settle the next stage of Tullow's investment in Uganda with [name withheld] and [name withheld] following Tullow's [information withheld] acquisition of [name withheld]’s Ugandan assets on 26 July 2. [information withheld] 3. [information withheld] The [information withheld] deal and Tullow's spend on exploration in Uganda total around [information withheld] Comment 4. [information withheld] 5. Their success has also been bringing other major UK firms, such as [name withheld] and the [name withheld], to the market. [information withheld] 6 [information withheld] SHEARMAN [Personal information]
From: {[name withheld]} Date: 03/09/2010




































































































































































































































Tanzania: Why did Lowassa and Magafuli not protect British investors?

 

The following, is part of a communication from a former senior Tanzanian minister to a senior member of the British government concerning the registration of the lease to Silverdale & Mbono Farms.

 

Dear Stewart,

After some chasing around, I managed to speak to Ngasongwa from Zanzibar yesterday, before he departed to Singapore and New York.

He said straight away that he hadn't been able to make as much progress as he'd have liked:  He had spoken to TIC, who had written to him confirming that they could issue the certificate of foreign investment as soon as the lease was registered.

It was clear to Ngasongwa that the lease should be registered. Even the papers Mengi had given him, despite Mengi's attempt "to be clever", showed no reason why the lease should not be registered.

But Ngasongwa had been unable to get hold of Magafuli, the Minister of Lands, who was travelling outside Dar es Salaam.

He had spoken to the Deputy Minister, but she had said she couldn't do anything in the Minister's absence.

So Ngasongwa had written to Magafuli encouraging him to impress on the Commissioner of Lands the need to proceed with registration. He had copied this letter to Lowassa and enclosed with it a copy of the TIC letter and my letter to him of 6 September (to which is also attached your letter to the Regional Commissioner).

Ngasongwa promised me a blind copy of his letter to Magafuli. I hope that will be waiting for me when I get back into the office tomorrow.

Ngasongwa said he would resume the chase on his return to Dar es Salaam on (probably) 29 September.

This is still frustratingly slow, and I'll be interested to see what Ngasongwa's letter to Magafuli actually says. But I do have the impression that Ngasongwa really does feel he needs to sort this matter out, at last. And it's good that he copied his letter to Lowassa.

Best wishes

-------------

September 2009.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Reginald Mengi: Two faces that tell a different story.

Reginald Mengi
Outside  the High Court in London in 2012 where he was found complicit in corruption that destroyed private sector investment in Tanzania and his “selfless dedication to humanity and a determination to labour for the public welfare” questioned.

Reginald Mengi

Reginald Mengi
  Appears in this months Forbes magazine.
 http://www.forbes.com/profile/reginald-mengi/

Spot the difference in the above photographs? 

Ironically, you cannot, they are both  the same. So what's the point? 

Well the point is, the difference in what you will read about Reginald Mengi depending on where you view the photograph on the Internet. Forbes, or the judgement in the London High Court case Mengi v Hermitage where Reginald Mengi was found to be complicit in corruption, to have misled the London High Court and to have used his media as a tool of journalistic terrorism against lawful British investors in Tanzania which led to the destruction and theft of the lease to their farm Silverdale.

Reginald Mengi features this months Forbes magazine which writes up Reginald Mengi as a great and rich African entrpreneur. 

Their website includes the following amongst copious other compliments:-

Tanzanian Millionaire Receives Lions Philanthropy Award

Mengi was granted the International Order of the Lion- the highest award the Lions Club bestows on philanthropists on Tuesday the 4th of March 2014 during a gala banquet in Dar es Salaam which was well attended by prominent Tanzanian businessmen, politicians and diplomats. Mengi ... was honoured for his “selfless dedication to humanity and a determination to labour for the public welfare”.

About his media empire Forbes state "Reginald Mengi, a newcomer to Forbes' list of Africa's Richest, chairs privately held IPP Group, a Tanzanian conglomerate that owns 11 national newspapers (including Tanzania's Financial Times, ThisDay and The Guardian), three of East Africa's most popular television stations (EATV, Capital and ITV), and about ten radio stations"

What Forbes fail to point out to it's readers is that Reginald Mengi was found by the London High Court in December 2012 to have been complicit in a particularly nasty piece of corruption, to have misled the court, probably have been guilty of criminal libel in Tanzania should the authorities have chose to prosecute him and to have used his media as a means of journalist terrorism to destroy lawful British investment in Tanzania. Importantly, the High Court found that Mengi's media operated a bias and favourable policy in favour of President Kikwete.

The High Court ruling made damning rulings on Mengi's business conduct and the use and abuse of his media power.
Forbes states that their magazine is a leading source of reliable business news and financial information. Indeed they make the following claim.

The Forbes 2014 Investment Guide: The Best Advice Of All Time

Reginald Mengi is the Chairman of the Tanzanian Private Sector Foundation and takes a very vocal anti corruption stand using his newspapers to do so. He  is a strong supporter of attracting private sector investment in Tanzania. What is extraordinary, is that Forbes, felt it appropriate not to mention anything at all about Mengi's failed High Court action where he was found guilty of being complicit in corruption that destroyed private secotor investment which left his reputation in tatters and had obvious impact on the way in which prospective investors in Tanzania, would view the business enviromnent as portrayed by Tanzania's Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) of which Reginald Mengi is chairman.

This is an extraordinary ommission by Forbes. Steve Forbes, editor in chief of the magazine states “With all thy getting, get understanding." Well readers of Forbes may get a fuller and better understanding of Reginald Mengi by reading the following press release by UK lawyers Carter Ruck after his failed libel case brought against British Lawyer Sarah Hermitage in London (extracts printed below).

http://www.carter-ruck.com/Documents/Hermitage_Press_Release-301112.pdf

The libel case, thought to have cost Reginald Mengi in excess of $5 mil can be read at the following link :-

http://www.5rb.com/case/mengi-v-hermitage-no-2/



Press Release
Date: 30 November 2012

Sarah Hermitage Libel Defence Upheld
Silverdale Farm Blog Justified

At the High Court in London today, Mr Justice Bean delivered
Judgement in favour of Sarah Hermitage, who had been sued for
libel by the wealthy Tanzanian businessman, Reginald Mengi,
the Executive Chairman of IPP Ltd,a company which holds major
newspaper and broadcasting interests in Tanzania.
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 defamatoryof 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 Judgement, Mr Justice Bean ruled:
“I find that the campaign in the Guardian and Nipashe facilitated
Benjamin’scorruption of local officials and intimidation of the Middletons
and thus helpedBenjamin to destroy their investments and grab their
properties; and that Mr[Reginald] Mengi, since he either encouraged
or knowingly permitted thecampaign, was in that sense complicit in
Benjamin’s corruption and intimidation. The allegation is thus substantially
true, and justified at commonlaw"

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.”

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Tanzania: Corruption and Human Rights. Institute of Advanced Legal Studies 28th May 2014

 

British law stumbling block to justice says President Kikwete of Tanzania.

 

Daily News

Published on Tuesday, 06 May 2014 04:37  

Written by MARC NKWAME in Arusha

FOREIGN laws that many African countries, including Tanzania, had inherited from their former colonial masters, have remained a major stumbling block in the provision of equal justice to all, President Jakaya Kikwete stated.

President Jakaya Kikwete.

President Kikwete of Tanzania

Colonial masters left behind vague and intangible laws

Many of the alien laws are also defined in foreign language and always incomprehensible to ordinary citizens who also perceive them as too expensive and just meant for the affluent few,” said President Kikwete while officially opening the 12th Biennial Conference of International Association of Women Judges taking place at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC).

He, however, took solace at the legal and judiciary reform process currently taking place. “I am glad to announce that Tanzania is currently embarking on legal and judiciary reforms meant to transform our courts and magistrates to be more accessible and people friendly to ordinary residents,” the president told his audience.

Running under the theme, “Justice to all” the International Women Judges’ meeting here, targets to address issues of vulnerable groups, such as women, children, poor people and those with physical disabilities, accessing legal services as well as getting justice freely and timely. More than 600 women judges from all over the world have gathered in Arusha for the five-day event organised by the Tanzania Women Judges Association and the Judiciary

“For any country’s legal system to work effectively, the guiding regulations practiced within must bear customary home-grown roots, something which seems to be lacking in most previously colonized states that instead inherited or copied from their previous alien rulers,’’ the president noted.

The Head of State also pointed out that taking the advantage of poor people’s legal ignorance; many wealthy people have also been misusing their financial position in twisting the laws to their favour -- at the expense of others.

President Kikwete also pointed out that in addition to the vague and intangible laws that foreign masters left behind, the country was also being challenged by limited and few legal infrastructure and manpower to effectively deliver justice to all.

Our legal practitioners must also have excellent knowledge on the laws, regulations and the constraints involved,” he stated.

Monday, 21 April 2014

British couple to sue Tanzania over farm deal that 'ended in death threats'

 

British couple to sue Tanzania over farm deal that 'ended in death threats'

Fight at the international arbitration court comes as UK promotes private investment in east African country

Tanzania's president Jakaya Kikwete Tanzania's president Jakaya Kikwete met David Cameron at Downing Street earlier this month. Photograph: Reuters

 

Mark Tran

Sunday 20 April 2014

A British couple aim to take Tanzania to an international arbitration court after they were forced to flee following what they say was a campaign of harassment and intimidation, including death threats.

If it goes to court, the case could prove embarrassing for the UK and Tanzania at a time when the British government is promoting private investment in the east African country.

Sarah Hermitage and Stewart Middleton bought the lease to Silverdale farm in the Kilimanjaro area from Benjamin Mengi, a businessman, in 2004. Hermitage, a solicitor, and Middleton, an agronomist with extensive experience in Africa, planned to make the 216 hectares (533 acres) of prime farmland their home and business. Silverdale employed about 150 people to grow green beans, baby corn, seed maize and coffee beans.

The following year, Mengi disputed the acquisition of the lease of £67,474, paid in two instalments, claiming that the assignment of the lease agreement was "null and void". The couple say Mengi began threatening them, damaging their property and intimidating their staff.

"It was state harassment, not a dispute," said Hermitage. "There is no doubt in my mind they would have killed us, and I want my government to hold them to account … He had no intention of letting us have that farm."

Asked why the couple were suing Tanzania rather than Mengi himself, she said: "We're not bringing a lawsuit against Mengi because the Tanzanian courts have failed to protect us or afford us justice. This is part of our claim against Tanzania. The Tanzanian courts, police and other authorities have not only failed to protect us and our employees, but actively assisted the harassment campaign to drive us from our farm and the country. Our claims are not about a private dispute with Mengi but about Tanzania's failure to respect its obligations to protect foreign investors, including from corruption, threats and violence."

As Hermitage and Middleton prepare to take their multimillion-dollar case to the international centre for settlement of investment disputes at the World Bank, the UK is pressing ahead with commercial ties with Tanzania. Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzanian president, met David Cameron at Downing Street in early April as part of a trip to talk up his country as a destination for British companies.

This followed a visit in November to Tanzania by Justine Greening, the international development secretary, when she and Mizengo Pinda, the Tanzanian prime minister, announced a "high-level prosperity partnership" to encourage closer bilateral commercial ties.

Sir Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet in Kent, whose constituents include Hermitage and Middleton, has lobbied successive Foreign Office ministers for Africa over the years and is incensed that the British government is encouraging British companies to invest in Tanzania despite what happened at Silverdale.

"We should not be promoting foreign investment there. My constituents have had their entire livelihood taken from them with complete impunity," said Gale. "The Tanzanian government has been reluctant to act – it won't or can't do anything. Africa needs good farmers. Stewart was one of those. He has a lot to offer. He was providing livelihoods – all that has gone and been vandalised."

In response to Gale's queries, in 2009, the Tanzanian high commissioner in London claimed that the "police investigations did not find any evidence of threat on their [Hermitage and Middleton's] lives" and "police and anti-corruption bureau investigated the allegations but none was proved true".

Various British high commissioners have sought to press the couple's case, but Gale believes the Foreign Office should have done more.

When Gale brought up the case in a parliamentary question in February, Mark Simmonds, the minister for Africa, responded: "The British government has raised the case of Silverdale farm at the highest levels on a number of occasions. I raised the issue with the Tanzanian agricultural minister on 24 October last year and have done so with the Tanzanian foreign minister on numerous occasions. We will continue to discuss the investment climate in our conversations with the Tanzanian government."

Hermitage and Middleton have also found a stalwart supporter in Edward Clay, the former high commissioner to Kenya, who famously spoke of gluttonous Kenyan officials "vomiting over our [donors'] shoes".

Clay wrote several letters to Greening's predecessor, Andrew Mitchell, on the couple's behalf, and is critical of the international development committee (IDC) for not flagging up Silverdale.

"IDC's job is scrutiny of the aid budget in the interests of the British taxpayer, not to promote aid willy-nilly," said Clay. "In assessing aid's utility in Tanzania, IDC members' access and authority in Tanzania could be used to promote redress of abuses of British investors."

In another twist to the saga, Benjamin Mengi's brother, Reginald, a media magnate, brought a libel case against Hermitage in the UK in 2012 in connection with Silverdale. Reginald sued Hermitage in the high court after she had written and made public five blog posts and two emails concerning an alleged defamatory campaign waged against her and her husband during their legal dispute with Benjamin Mengi. Reginald Mengi claimed that he "was not responsible, not accountable and not answerable" for the editorial content of newspapers controlled by his company, IPP Media.

In a ruling in Hermitage's favour , Mr Justice Bean said: "I find that the campaign in the Guardian and Nipashe [newspapers owned by IPP Media] 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. The allegation is thus substantially true, and justified at common law."

Mengi did not respond to requests for comment from the Guardian.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

BG Group Chairman Andrew Gould: Silverdale Farm issue “nothing to do with us”.

I wonder what the world would look like now if the British government and Western allies had said to Nazi invaded Europe,  “We are sorry, we cannot assist you with this matter as it is a dispute that does not concern us” ?

BG Group invested in Tanzania in 2010 and has a 60% interest in offshore oil Blocks and is one of the most prominent British investors in the country.

Andrew Gould, Chairman of the company states:-

“I have spent 39 years in this industry and have worked with all types of oil and gas companies all over the world. When I decided to join BG Group it was on the basis of the exceptionally exciting opportunity the portfolio presented.”

Andrew Gould: Chairman of British Gas

No doubt BG group’s investment in Tanzania is a very exciting proposition for the company. After all, there are seemingly huge profits to be made in gas over the next few years by securing Tanzanian contracts.

As a multimillion $ investors in Tanzania, BG group has immense economic clout and influence upon the government of Tanzania to encourage and secure an effective investor environment both for the Group and, other British investors that seek to invest in the country. It would, it is suggested here, be irresponsible to say the least, to ignore issues of pervasive corruption that  impact upon that environment.

In March 2014, I sent the following letter to Andrew Gould, seeking his assistance in the Silverdale Farm issue i.e., to hold the Tanzanian government to account for the abuse of law that had led to the destruction of British investment in Tanzania. Investment the owners of which, did not have the economic clout to protect in the face of legal abuse.

I sent the following to Mr Gould on 14th March 2014:-

Dear Mr Gould,

I am writing to you in respect of the Silverdale Farm issue in Tanzania a country where BG Group has invested in excess of $1 bn.

I am sure you are aware of this case, a case where I and my husband Stewart Middleton were driven from the country by criminality, abuse and intimidation with the loss of our investment and life savings.

To remind you of the details, in 2004 my husband Stewart Middleton and I 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 owner of IPP Media and co-incidentally, Chairman of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation.

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 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. 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.

To add insult to injury, Reginald Mengi sued me for Libel in the High Court in London in October 2012. I had alleged that he had used IPP Media to run a campaign of journalist terrorism against us to support his brother’s campaign to grab our investment.

I successfully defended this case. The judge ruled that Reginald Mengi and his witnesses lied to and misled the UK High Court. Importantly, the court found that he was complicit in the corruption of his brother Benjamin in his attempts to steal our property.

However, the Silverdale Farm issue is not about personalities; it is about the systematic abuse of law and theft of our investment facilitated by government agencies. It is interesting to note that Kikwete has not condemned Reginald Mengi’s (or his brother’s corruption) in this case. Albeit on a small scale, we had the opportunity to provide truly sustainable development in Tanzania and to improve the lives of the poor.

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, corruption, 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.

The facts in our case are clear and not disputed. It is at this point that I ask for your assistance in holding the Tanzanian government to account for its failure to uphold the law in respect of our legal rights. Large investors such as the BG Group should not consider investing in Tanzania as if our story had not happened or is of no importance. What has happened to us will be repeated unless the authorities are challenged. I have spent five years challenging the authorities who still persist in ignoring me and the British government’s requests to compensate us for our losses in Tanzania.

We do not have the economic clout or political leverage of the BG Groups in respect of both the Tanzanian and British governments (the latter could and should do more to assist us) and as such I seek your assistance.

I am taking this opportunity of copying this letter to your Chief Executive Officer Mr Chris Finlayson

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Hermitage.

Mr Gould did not respond to this letter personally, he delegated the response which in essence stated that  BG has no right or place to become involved with a dispute that is not linked to British Gas.

management_andrewgould

So, in effect what is being said is, the government of Tanzania can behave as it pleases towards other investors and Tanzanians but so long as it does not effect British Gas or impact on their business activities in Tanzania then they are not concerned.

Whilst being an incredibly selfish view, Andrew Gould’s perfunctory and obfuscatory dismissal of my request is inaccurate in the extreme.

The Silverdale Farm issue is not a “dispute” no matter how convenient it is for Mr Gould to use that label. The Silverdale Farm issue is about the denial of legal rights, denial of access to law and a failure by the Tanzanian government to uphold the law. As one of the largest investors in Tanzania, it very much concerns Andrew Gould and British Gas.

The facts of this issue are clear and “out there”. Andrew Gould has chosen to ignore them: But then, he is in a position to do so.

In his response to me, Andrew Gould has turned his back on the issues of abuse of law that the Silverdale Farm issue illuminates. He would do well to remember, that it is because of people like me my husband and the bravery of our former Tanzanian staff that the BG Group is able to invest in Tanzania. He has dismissed both with unconscionable ease. In doing so, he has dismissed the lives and struggles of decent Tanzanians and illegally dispossessed British investors in the country. Most importantly, he has turned his back on an issue combining commercial illegality, abuse of due process, intimidation, denial of the protection of the rule of law, and of human rights.

In so many ways the Silverdale issue has everything to do with British Gas and I suggest , Andrew Gould’s position is indefensible.

Sarah Hermitage 19th April 2014