Shining light: Botswana government loses shine on Basarwa

Staff Writer
Sunday (December 13) marked the third anniversary of the famous High Court ruling that granted the Gana and Gwi Bushmen the right to return to their lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

Sadly, the  Bushmen are in no mood for celebration. Rather then marking this day with the merriment it deserves, the  Bushmen are gearing themselves up for another legal battle against the government.

Just a few weeks ago, they lodged an application to the   High Court in a bid to be allowed to exercise their most basic human right; the right to water.

Despite the ruling that it had acted illegally and unconstitutionally in evicting the Bushmen from the CKGR, the government has banned them  from accessing a borehole which it sealed during the evictions. 

Without the borehole, the Bushmen struggle to find enough water to survive on their lands.

At the same time as denying the Bushmen a regular supply of water, the government is throwing buckets of it at wildlife.

Ten new boreholes  have been drilled in the CKGR, but Park Manager, Dimakatso Ntshebe, has made it clear that not one of these can be used by the Bushmen. 

Either he has

forgotten the High Court ruling that says the Bushmen have the constitutional right to live in the reserve, or he is simply following the government's policy of driving them out.

All the Bushmen want is to be allowed access to one borehole which they used before they were unlawfully evicted from their lands by the government.

They have even offered to fund the refurbishment of the borehole themselves. That the government refuses to allow them, this is a further black mark on Botswana's already tarnished human rights  record.

How cruel it is to drill new boreholes for wildlife, as well as giving the go ahead for a new tourist safari lodge in the CKGR complete with swimming pool, at the same time denying the country's oldest  inhabitants access to just one of them.

The government has had three years to prove to the international  community it can regain its title as a 'shining light of democracy'. 

It has failed.

Stephen Corry



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