EXPLORING BUSHMAN RESERVE
- WORLD BANK
22 March 2005
BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining company, is exploring the
Gana and Gwi Bushmen's reserve without their consent. In reaction
to a complaint to the World Bank, the company's Botswana
subsidiary Sekaka Diamonds* has erected signs in the reserve in
English and Setswana, explaining that low flying planes will start
surveying for diamonds. Yet the Bushmen in the reserve read
neither English nor Setswana.
The BHP Billiton venture in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is
funded by the private arm of the World Bank, the IFC
(International Finance Corporation), to the tune of US$ 2 million.
The company's failure to consult the Gana and Gwi, who have been
evicted from the reserve, violates the World Bank's own policy on
Local Bushman organization First People of the Kalahari wrote to
the World Bank ombudsman in November 2004, complaining that their
right to live on their ancestral land was being 'undermined' by
the BHP Billiton project. The Bushmen are opposed to any
development on their land until they are allowed to return and
live freely there.
Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, 'The Bushmen know
not to expect justice from the diamond companies or the Botswana
government, and Survival knows that the World Bank won't help
indigenous peoples who are victims of its so-called development
schemes - whatever its policies might be. But the sheer cynicism
of this is extraordinary. A diamond company sticking up unreadable
signs in a Bushman community in order to fulfil 'local
consultation'! It would be comic, if it wasn't so tragic.'
*Sekaka Diamonds is also known as Kalahari Diamonds Limited.