Thursday, September 24, 2020

Basarwa and gov?t lock horns over P2 million

The Attorney General said they will be defending the government against an appeal by Basarwa who want to be awarded P2 million costs for the marathon case of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve that ended last year.

Handing down the judgment last December, the High Court ruled that each of the parties would have to foot their legal costs.

Basarwa have since lodged an appeal against such a ruling.

The Director of Research and Public Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Clifford Maribe, says the government has already made concessions since the High Court handed its judgment.

?As a demonstration of its good faith and preparedness to give effect to the court decision, the Government has made a number of concessions.?

Maribe says these concessions include the fact that an additional 30 people who were in the original list of applicants but who had failed to prosecute their case, would, like the 189 Applicants, be allowed to enter the CKGR without permits.

?Further, they will be allowed to take into the CKGR unrestricted amounts of water at their own expense,? he said.

He, however, said that it should be noted that the CKGR remains state land and the laws of the country which have not been struck down as unconstitutional, continue to apply in the aftermath of the judgment. ?These include laws relating to the exclusion of rearing domestic animals inside game reserves, anti-poaching laws, and the requirement that any installation inside a game reserve requires permission from the Director of Wildlife and National Parks.?

Maribe said the CKGR remains a critical component of the country?s conservation strategy and an important source of sustainable livelihood for thousands of people who live in the south-western part of Botswana. As such the challenge before Government in the aftermath of the court decision is how to balance the interests of the ?few citizens who are the beneficiaries of the court decision, with the need to preserve and sustainably utilize the unique wildlife heritage inside the CKGR.?

?The government of Botswana is prepared to address this challenge squarely, and is currently working on a strategy to engage with the residents of the CKGR and other stakeholders, with a view to addressing the wider issue of the future of the CKGR,? he said.

He confirmed that attorneys for the applicants have served the Attorney General with court documents indicating their wish to seek leave to appeal from the decision of the High Court that each party should pay its own costs.

?This is an unfortunate development which the Government is opposing, and awaits the decision of the courts in this regard,? said Maribe.

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