Zim farmer Ben Freeth awarded an MBE

British/Zimbabwean farmer Ben Freeth was awarded the status of Member of the British Empire (MBE) as part of the British queen’s birthday celebrations.

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Freeth and his father-in-law Mike Cambell were the protagonists of the 2009 documentary Mugabe and the White African, which garnered prestigious international awards and focussed critical attention on the corruption inherent in the Zimbabwean government’s land-reform programme. Farmer’s Weekly spoke to Freeth about his award.

Farmer’s Weekly: Where were you when you heard the news?

Ben Freeth: I was in my car speaking to the British ambassador in Harare.

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How do you feel about it?

Shell-shocked. It came totally out of the blue. I wish our lawyer, David Drury, who has done so much for so many on the legal front, could have got it. There are so many others too. My father-in-law Mike Cambell should get a knighthood. It’s a great encouragement though to all of us who believe in God, in doing what is right, and who yearn to see the rule of law return to Zimbabwe.

Robert Mugabe is an Anglophile (of sorts). White Zimbabwean Olympian Kirsty Coventry got a presidential handshake and a parade through town when she distinguished herself internationally.

Have you received any congratulatory calls from state house?

No, not a word – and I don’t expect them!

By the same token, any plaudits from the Movement for Democratic Change?

No, they seem to be keeping mum as well at this stage.

Do you think Her Majesty has had the chance to see Mugabe and the White African yet?

I haven’t had a chance to speak to her yet. I believe we could have a chat at the palace later in the year!
Congratulations Ben! Thank you. This is tangible recognition of all of the farming community’s efforts during this past turbulent and traumatic decade.

We hope it will create a new, positive platform from which our country can move forward.