- Currently, the peoples and the governments of Botswana and the United States have something in common. Both have sticky situations on their hands. The albatrosses around their necks are not only costly but raise disturbing questions about their moral uprightness. The tragedy for Botswana, however, being a mono-commodity economy, is that the burden is also life threatening. In contrast, the US is the leading multi-commodity world economy.
The United States unilaterally declared war, based largely on false or doctored information against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Against all advice from the United Nations, the Bush administration went to war against Iraq. As it turned out, Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration used as a pretext for the war.
In the case of Botswana, the government relocated Basarwa (San, Bushmen) from the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) on flimsy excuses, which it has failed to justify up to this date. Botswana authorities did this against sound advice from civic organisations such as the Botswana Christian Council (BCC), Ditshwanelo and others.
The common trait that the two countries also share is to classify any dissenter, on their "staying the course" approach, as being unpatriotic. Their motto is: 'Either you are with us or you are with the enemy'!
It is clear that the two governments, though in denial, are desperately in need of exiting their embarrassing and precarious situation with some semblance of dignity. While the Americans appear to be in an unenviable position of not having an "exit plan" from the Iraq quagmire, Batswana had a window of opportunity to extricate themselves from the mess.
Yesterday's ruling, which overturned the relocation of Basarwa from the CKGR, can now be appropriately described as such an opportunity. In earnest, the ruling has been God-sent to our increasingly egocentric government.
As it is, government's legal victory could have turned out to be hollow. As a newspaper, we have always counselled government that the relocation of Basarwa has never been a legal issue. It is basically a human rights issue. We have further admonished government to seek dialogue with the most marginalised of Botswana communities, namely the Basarwa. There are willing mediators in the form of local civic organisations such as the Botswana Council of NGOs (BOCONGO), Botswana Christian Council, Ditshwanelo and others.
That is the only route that can save this country from the impending social, political and economic asphyxia likely to result from the CKGR case fallout. We therefore implore the government not to invoke its right of appeal on the case.
This case is about people demanding dignity and respect.
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