NEWS 2005

 

Department Could Not Disobey Directive

Thato Chwaane

Assistant director of national parks, Jan Broekhuis said yesterday that the department was not at liberty to disobey a presidential directive issued on October 2002. During a re-examination in the Basarwa relocation case by the lead state counsel Sidney Pilane, Broekhuis said the directive stipulated that the national parks regulations be strictly enforced within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

It stated that there should be regular patrols within and along the CKGR boundaries by the department. It ordered that special game licences for domestic purposes be exclusively issued to residents of relocation settlements of Kaudwane and New Xade for hunting in the wildlife management area. The directive said that all people who have been relocated and compensated should not be allowed to resettle in the CKGR and that government adopt a policy that no amenities and facilities should be provided to people remaining in the reserve. Pilane said that he was bringing up the directive because issues related to special game licences and enforcement of regulations had been discussed in the cross-examination and it had been implied that there was political interference in the preparation of the management plan for parks. Broekhuis said that at the time of writing the draft plan, they were no longer providing special game licences to the people of CKGR. He said at the time, there were 17 people who had declined to relocate from the reserve.

He said they were not at liberty to ignore Section 12 of Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act of 1992 when dealing with the people of CKGR. The section states that no person shall hunt in a game reserve or sanctuary. He said this did not only apply to CKGR but to other game reserves as well. He said hunting without a permit is regarded as poaching. He said domestic livestock would emerge winners against wildlife, as it was a form of industry that was more powerful and would gain access to water and grazing land. He said people in the CKGR had chosen New Xade as one of the resettlement areas because its resources were good. He said they were aware that they had other choices.

He said the 2002 relocation taskforce report that stated that people had wanted to return to CKGR, showed that 88.5 percent wished to stay at the settlement. Commenting on another relocation from Makgadikgadi pans national parks, he said the Zaoga people were the last to relocate in 2003. He said that the people had to relocate due the construction of a fence and that there had been prior consultations. Broekhuis said there were no human populations in Makgadikgadi that was declared a national park in the 1970s. He said the former residents were compensated, moved and there had been no objections.

Broekhuis said the First People of Kalahari (FPK) were not entitled to have all their views and preferences incorporated in the draft final plan, which was the official position of the department. He said the FPK understood that any consultations would have to be approved by the department.

Meanwhile, Pilane asked Broekhuis about the disparity of figures found in the draft final and third draft plan. Broekhuis said there was no reason to believe the data was unreliable. However, he had said under cross-examination that the 1990 results of two dry season surveys of gemsbok had anomalies. But yesterday he stated that the results depended on the situation. In the end, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi noted that the number of gemsbok did not really go to the root of the case. He said at the end of the day, they needed to determine whether people were coerced out of the CKGR or not. But Basarwa lawyer, Gordon Bennett explained that in his sworn affidavit, the former director of national parks, Joe Matlhare said that human settlements were a disturbance to wildlife. Bennett added that Basarwa expert witness, Arthur Albertson, said there was no serious impact of human settlements on wildlife. Another judge Maruping Dibotelo urged the two counsels to confine themselves to issues and minimise objections. The case continues today.