To kick start their fresh campaign against Botswana in style, this week the London based Non Governmental Organisation, Survival International, placed an advert with a leading British newspaper the Independent alleging torture on Basarwa by the Department of Wildlife at the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
SI Director Stephen Corry says the advert is a way of bringing the plight of Basarwa to the international community.
He said instead of the government of Botswana criticizing Survival International (SI) on what it is doing, attention should be focused on what government of Botswana did not do.
“Government is preventing Basarwa from taking their herd into the Reserve.
Against the High Court judgment, government has not issued a single hunting license. Against the judgment, government is saying only the principal applicants of the case can enter the Reserve. In no single way has the government enacted any of the government’s rulings,” said Corry.
He went further to say after routine arrests, beating and torture of Basarwa by the Wildlife guards Survival has had no option but to restart the campaign.
He said what is happening in Botswana is not just of interest to Basarwa and Batswana in general but the international community.
“There are allegations of poaching against Basarwa. What is expected of them when government is not issuing a single hunting licence,” said Corry.
He said what is happening has nothing to do with conservation but driving Basarwa out of the CKGR.
Even as President Festus Mogae, who has been hands on with the CKGR, leaves office, Corry says his organization has no reason to be optimistic that the incoming president will be any different.
“Judging past behaviour it is difficult to have any hopes. The bottom line is that this government has failed to abide by judgment of the country’s courts,” said Corry.
He said this has serious implications for the principle of the rule of law in Botswana.
“Whether the next President will abide by the law we have no idea. If he doesn’t the campaign will continue. What I know is that this campaign has been going on for the last ten years, if it has to go on for another ten it will.”
He likened the campaign for Basarwa to the anti-apartheid calls in South Africa.
“What is important is that Batswana need not be ashamed of what is happening; only their government should be ashamed.”
He said as a country Botswana is not bad, what is bad is government treatment of Basarwa.
“It is important to note that contrary to the line peddled by Botswana government, Survival International is not adopting a hard line stance on this issue. Rather the hard line is from the Botswana government which is disregarding a judgment by its own court,” said Corry.