Basarwa have denied ever playing any role in choosing a team to represent the Central Kalahari Game Reserve residents in negotiations with government.
The Basarwa accused the Minister of Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, of misleading the nation by implying that they are the ones who approved the negotiating team.
Bihela Sekere, a university of Botswana student and a temporary resident of New Xade, said that Basarwa were never consulted during negotiations.
“At first we thought that maybe he did not come to our settlement only. But we were surprised when it later emerged that most Basarwa were just as surprised as we were,” he said.
Sekere cited the inclusion of Ditshwanelo Director Alice Mogwe as part of the negotiating team as an example, saying that they would never choose Mogwe to represent them as they have an acrimonious relationship with Ditshwanelo.
“It is a well known fact that Basarwa have a negative perception towards Ditshwanelo. They abandoned us in our hour of need during our case against government. Why then would we choose the Ditshwanelo director as our representative?” he said.
Sekere added that they were made aware of a directive from the Office of the President ordering that a negotiating committee should be set up to represent Basarwa. But he insists that they were not given a chance to approve the committee, contrary to statements made by Mokaila.
“We were also told to not bring the media and Survival International into the matter. We were told that Survival International only brings trouble and confusion into negotiations,” he added.
The Basarwa also accuse government of confiscating their livestock and selling it at auctions without their consent. Xannespade, Sister, Gaothobogwe, and Jube Ngwagaosele, who reside in some of the settlements within the CKGR, claim that government auctioned their goats without consent.
They further allege that their goats were sold at incredibly low prices of P150, even though a normal goat costs a minimum of P350. Sekere said that they have information that proves that on the 6th of February 2010, government sold off their goats at low prices.
Sekere said that government guards within the CKGR captured their goats and told them that they are not allowed inside the reserve.
“The government took our goats while we were inside the CKGR, claiming that they were there unlawfully. But we were never told that our goats would be sold. Worse still, the proceeds from the sale never came back to us,” said Sekere.
He added that the law banishing goats from inside the reserve is new to them as they have always kept their livestock while staying in CKGR.
“The government is punishing those who chose to remain inside the reserve. They keep blaming Survival International for everything that goes wrong. Who are we supposed to turn to?” they said.