Upholding democracy, human rights and conservation

The authors argue that successful conversation must start with communities living with wildlife PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
The authors argue that successful conversation must start with communities living with wildlife PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES

For decades Botswana has maintained an enviable international reputation as an ‘African miracle’ due in large part to its robust democracy, sound governance systems and representative and accountable government.

Whilst not always perfect, a culture of civil and political rights upheld by an independent judiciary prevailed and citizens were consulted, through Parliament, on policy. Likewise the right of all people to earn a livelihood from sustainable use of their natural resources within the bounds of national and international law was upheld.

On coming to power, former President Ian Khama oversaw significant shifts in direction with regards to rural peoples rights to use their natural resources. These included overseeing, with no public consultation, the introduction of a militarised approach to wildlife management and the alienation of wildlife from rural communities.  The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) guards were provided with fully automatic weapons, the Botswana army was called to assist with anti-poaching and sustainable, regulated hunting banned. These changes effectively ended progressive Community Based Natural Resources Management, which had provided rural communities with the right to benefit from wildlife. This militarised approach has not worked. It has stripped rural communities of their rights, leaving them with the burden of living with wildlife and removing the benefits. The outcome has been impoverishment, abuse of human rights, increased poaching and wildlife destruction.

Editor's Comment
Parents should be more proactive in children’s lives

Parents need to pay particular attention to their children to ensure they grow up in a healthy environment that supports their development and mental health. Healthy attachments between parents and children foster strong bonds, creating a solid foundation for future leaders.In many African cultures, there is a common perception that parents should use a stick to discipline naughty children. While disciplining children is important, it is equally...

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