Benjamin Freeth: The flip side of BMATT


BENJAMIN FREETH, a British-born former white commercial farmer, loathes the country’s Land Reform and Resettlement Programme for obvious reasons and wishes it fails.
He is one of the many white farmers whose land was given back to its rightful owners when the Government of Zimbabwe embarked on a programme to correct historically tainted land tenure patterns in 2000.
Since then, he has been in the Western-sponsored media, condemning the programme, calling it an abject failure.
In his recent interview with Martin Fletcher in The Telegraph, Freeth describes how Zimbabwe is ‘on its knees’ and hopes he will get ‘his’ Mount Carmel Farm back.
The delusional Freeth envisions the Government begging him and many other whiter farmers to get back on the farms.
But who is Benjamin Freeth?
Many only know Freeth as the son-in-law to the Rhodesia farmer Mike Campbell and nothing much of his Freeth ancestry.
Freeth was born in Sittingbourne, Kent, in Southern England.
He is son to a former British Army Officer.
He is the legacy of the British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT) that initiated standardisation training programmes which were part of the national army integration process in 1980.
As part of the Lancaster House agreements, the Commonwealth Monitoring Forces (CMF) were established by the Commonwealth, to supervise the implementation of the Agreement between Rhodesians and the guerilla forces of the Patriotic Front.
The Commonwealth monitoring forces comprised 1 500 peacekeepers, including 150 Australians, 22 Fijians, 50 Kenyans and 75 New Zealanders.
Britain provided 800 soldiers; some 300 Royal Air Force personnel and a small number of Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
Ceasefire was implemented, a general election followed and independence was achieved.
After attaining independence, Zimbabwe had to build its national army.
About 150 British forces remained behind to assist in the building of the Zimbabwe National Army.
Freeth’s father was among those who remained behind to set up a new staff training college for the newly established national army.
And like many others before him, when his father’s tour of duty elapsed, the young man decided to stay as he ‘fell in love’ with the country.
Freeth went on to study to be a commercial farmer at the Royal Agricultural College in Gloucestershire, England.
He then returned to Zimbabwe and married Laura Campbell, the daughter of the late apartheid war criminal Mike Campbell.
For those who do not know him, Campbell was part of apartheid South Africa’s manpower contribution to the genocide in Rhodesia.
He was a South African Army captain who butchered Africans alongside the Rhodesian Government.
It was during the genocide that he also fell in love with the land and decided to settle in Zimbabwe.
He moved to Mount Carmel Farm in 1974 and added a neighbouring plot of land in 1980, following Zimbabwe’s independence.
After marrying into the Campbell family, Freeth was apportioned a part of the Campbells’ 30 000 acres (12 000 ha) Mount Carmel Estate in Chegutu.
Together, Freeth and his father-in-law Campbell managed the farm’s operations.
That is how Ben got land in Zimbabwe – and he just cannot let it go.
It is this farm that Freeth passionately calls ‘his farm’ that saw the rightful owners, black Africans, dispossessed of their lands and put into reserves in 1896.
Freeth chooses to ignore how his father-in-law and many other white settlers before him became owners of over
96 000 000 acres (38 400 000 hectares) of land in Southern Rhodesia, in the process killing over 50 000 Africans.
These are the blacks who decided to rise up against the settlers who had taken their land.
They were human too, but possibly Freeth does not think they were, and still are.
Through trickery and violence, blacks were violently chased away from their land while British retired soldiers and pensioners occupied it.
They were each given 3 000 acres of land and shared the cattle they had stolen from blacks.
More Africans died of hunger and starvation after being quarantined into tiny islands of native reserves.
This is a dark history that Freeth does not want to talk about.
He cannot explain how his kith and kin came to own the land, the means which they used to obtain it.
And ironically Freeth describes the repossession of land as theft and goes on to quote the Bible.
He invokes commandments – Exodus 20 vs 12; 17: “You shall not steal,” and, “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house.”
Freeth conveniently forgets that this land was taken from the same black Zimbabwean whom he thinks must still lose the land to him.
He chooses to ignore whites were the thieves and blacks were simply taking back their property that they were deprived of for almost 100 years.
Insincerely, he is appalled by the death of their dog Topsy and cat, Brown, but not the 50 000 blacks and many more who died fighting for their land.
He stokes fiercely the dream of those farmers who lost farms, but continues to hope that one day, they will return to them.
Every day, they concoct figures to prove that it is only them who can return the country to its former bread-basket status, to its days of glory.
But they are wrong.
The country’s Command Agriculture Programme is working on restoring the country’s bread-basket status.
Never in a thousand years will whites disposes blacks of their God-given land.
Blood was spilt for this sacred land called Zimbabwe.


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