NEWS 2005


FPWW Prepares To Mediate CKGR Relocation

By Tuduetso Setsiba
Staff Writer
11/28/2005 5:01:26 PM (GMT +2)

President Festus Mogae has invited First People World Wide (FPWW) to facilitate negotiations between the government and Basarwa over the relocation from Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). Founding president of FPWW, Rebecca Adamson said they visited the country eight years ago when the government tried for the first time to evict Basarwa from the CKGR. At the time, FPWW objected and gave government reasons why Basarwa should not be relocated. “After three years, we went back because we believed everything was on track,” she said. At the time, they brought together all stakeholders and the issue was resolved amicably. Adamson pointed out that they still oppose the relocation of Basarwa as they could live in harmony with wildlife. Though they differ with the government, she believes Mogae invited him because in the past, they handled the matter with maturity.

FPWW is an international organisation that aims to empower indigenous people. It believes that the people can be empowered by giving them the responsibility to care for game reserves and benefit as employed guides and selling their crafts to tourists. “They cannot be empowered by removal from the land which belongs to their grandfathers,” said Adamson. She emphasised that Basarwa could become conservationists. Adamson said they want to carry out the research in an independent and transparent manner. She said they have set conditions for the government prior to negotiations. “First we want to go to CKGR and verify if there is genocide and ethnic cleansing that we have read about. But it is quite surprising that the time we were here, there was no bloodshed,” she said.

Adamson distanced her team from the Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG) team, which is said to have visited the country to deal with the Basarwa relocation. “I have heard about them, but I don’t know much,” she said. PLPG made startling allegations of genocide against Basarwa. “Many of you may know that there is a largely unpublicised genocide occurring in Botswana. The Gana and Gwi San Bushmen of Botswana were forcibly evicted from their homeland, the CKGR in 2002 to make way for diamond concessions and to be ‘mainstreamed’ away from their hunter-gatherer culture. Since then, they have languished in resettlement camps while their leaders attempt to sue the government to be allowed to return. The government has broken their own laws to move the Bushmen. The court case is going nowhere, as the Bushmen’s lawyers are dependent on donor money, which runs out every time the government stalls the case. Meanwhile, the women, unable to gather food and with no work, are forced to prostitute themselves. HIV/AIDS, almost unknown before the people were moved, are now taking a lethal toll. Sexual abuse of children in schools and rape are daily realities. The men, unable to hunt (licenses to hunt were rescinded before the evictions) drink and fall prey to alcohol-related violence. Those that try to hunt are arrested and sometimes tortured.”

“If evidence of cultural genocide can be gathered, PILPG will bring the case before the International Court of Justice (ICC) free of charge, US$60,000 (excess of P300,000) is needed to send a team of 15 evidence gatherers out to the resettlement camps in November and December, with the ICC case poised to begin in the New Year,” PILPG says.

Adamson said this is not the best way of resolving these issues. “Already they have made an ultimatum, its either you do this or else?” she said. Her negotiating team consist of a scholar from the University of Elony, Jacqueline Jackson who specialises in culture and policy analysis; and Peter Poole who specialises in conservation, natural resources and community mapping.