NEWS 2005

 

PRESS RELEASE ON THE CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE (CKGR) 2005
 
REPEATED CALL FOR A RETURN TO NEGOTIATIONS

22.09.2005

DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, would like to express its concern at the current situation for the residents of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). We have received reports of violence which give cause for alarm.
 
DITSHWANELO has called repeatedly for a return to constructive dialogue in order to reach an amicable settlement between the residents of the CKGR and the Government of Botswana.  In 2000/2001, the Government had begun the process of preparing a management plan for the CKGR. It had incorporated the use of natural resources for the benefit of the residents. The draft plan followed a process of consultation and participation by the communities living within the CKGR. This process was interrupted by the effective forced removal of the residents from their land at the end of January 2002, when the Government unilaterally cut off the provision of basic and essential services to the residents.
 
In response, a court case was brought by the residents of the CKGR against the Government. It has now been adjourned until February 2006. DITSHWANELO considers that this four month adjournment provides all parties with a valuable opportunity to revive the negotiation process. If there is a chance to limit any further entrenchment or polarisation of opinion on both sides and explore an alternative, sustainable solution, then that chance must be taken, in the interests of all parties.
 
DITSHWANELO, a local NGO with a longstanding relationship with many members of the Basarwa community, has received reports from the Basarwa themselves that conditions in the CKGR are becoming increasingly difficult. The Government has restricted access to the CKGR due to an outbreak of a disease called ‘sarcoptic mange’ amongst domestic livestock. The Government has announced that it has ordered all domestic stock belonging to the residents (goats, sheep, horses and donkeys) be removed from the CKGR. This is on the basis that such animals pose an infection risk to the indigenous wildlife in the CKGR. The Government has also announced that it has stationed additional officers in the Game Reserve with a view to curbing “illegal activities such as poaching, further entry of livestock and people”. The resulting hardship for the residents makes the need for an immediate return to negotiation even more critical.
 
The Government’s approach to development for the residents of the CKGR through relocation should be critically explored and discussed. In accordance with a rights based approach to development, DITSHWANELO has maintained and continues to maintain that all people should be allowed to benefit from economic, social and political development, but not at the expense of their cultural identity.
 
Given Botswana ’s culture of dialogue, its principle of Botho and the ideals of Vision 2016, DITSHWANELO again reiterates that there is no reason why a Botswana solution to a Botswana problem cannot be sought around the negotiating table.
 
 
Gaborone
22 September 2005

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For more information, please contact:
DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
Private Bag 00416
Gaborone
Botswana
 
Tel: +267 390 6998
Fax: +267 390 7778
E-mail: legal.ditshwanelo@info.bw
Website: www.ditshwanelo.org.bw