- Botswana’s President, Ian Khama has come under fire again for disregarding the rights of the Kalahari Bushmen.
Mr Khama has allegedly ignored the pleas of the San communities in his country and continues to trample on their basic human rights.
Survival International reported today that hundreds of Bushmen were left angry and frustrated after the Botswana president refused to enter into discussions with them during a meeting on Thursday last week.
President Khama, accompanied by four government ministers, reportedly met with Bushmen at the New Xade resettlement camp where they were dumped after being evicted from their lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002. Despite a three year-old High Court ruling that they have the right to live in the reserve, the rights body said many still languish in the camps.
Since the ruling, the government has banned the Bushmen from accessing a water borehole on their lands; without it, they struggle to find enough water. Since attempts to negotiate with the government failed, the Bushmen have launched legal proceedings to gain access to their borehole, the report also said.
It continued that instead of addressing the questions by the community, President Khama has ignored the new litigation, choosing instead to talk about upgrades to the New Xade site. When Roy Sesana, founder of the Bushmen’s organisation, First People of the Kalahari, asked a question about the failed negotiations, he was told by the minister for wildlife and national parks that the President ‘doesn’t have to listen to this’.
Survival International further reported Bushman spokesman, Jumanda Gakelebone, saying, ‘The hope from us was that the president would address the problem of water and give us some answers which would show there is a relationship between us and him. But he was not interested in talking with us. We were not given the chance to speak.’
The group said while at the same time denying Bushmen their right to water, President Khama, who is on the board of Conservation International, has drilled new boreholes for wildlife in the reserve, and has given the go ahead for a safari lodge, now open, complete with swimming pool.
Survival International's director, Stephen Corry, said, ‘Khama’s ‘policy’ is illegal and in violation of the Bushmen’s fundamental human rights. In spite of the continuing damage to the country’s reputation, this government seems determined to destroy the Bushmen. Tourists in the game reserve, where water is provided to the animals but denied to the indigenous peoples, will be trampling over the Bushmen’s graves.’
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