Basarwa activists say they are not only unhappy with the government’s handling of the Basarwa situation in Ranyane settlement in Ghanzi but also do not trust the information they receive from government.
The Executive Director of Botswana Khwedom Council, Keikabile Mogodu, was responding to reports that government was disassociating itself from a leaked document detailing how it intends to relocate Basarwa from Ranyane settlement.
“We believe that the statement that was issued by the government in which it distanced itself from the document in question is part of the government’s continued propaganda. Remember that before we dragged them to court, they were still denying that they are relocating people from Ranyane,” said Mogodu.
He said the government should be held accountable for the document in question, adding that the council drafted it after it was instructed to do so by the government.
Mogodu said if the government wants Basarwa to believe that it has their interests at heart, it must call the local authorities in Ghanzi to order by taking drastic steps instead of issuing a statement through the media.
“Instead of disassociating themselves from the document, they must come out in the open and reprimand those who drafted the document because it is a fact that councils fall under the Botswana Government,” he said.
Mogodu added that “the two (council and government) are inseparable, when the government disassociate itself from the document, does it imply that the Ghanzi District is an independent state on its own?”
Mogodu further pointed out that “we are used to those tricks by the government; spreading of propaganda. They should just account for that document because when we approach the courts it is their lawyers from the Attorney General Chambers who spend sleepless nights drafting court papers.”
Contacted for comments on Friday, government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay said the government has already taken action by issuing a statement. Conceding that the matter was an internal one, Ramsay referred this publican to the Ministry of Local Government for further inquiries.
The statement from the Office of the President states that: “It has come to the attention of government that local authorities in the Ghanzi District had this past month drafted a ‘Ranyane Relocation Phase II Work Plan’ which included proposals that could be reasonably interpreted as being coercive and otherwise intended to force residents at Ranyane to relocate.”
Such proposals, the statement says, are at sharp variance with both policy and commitments made by government as a whole and are thus unapproved by government. It has been and remains the unequivocal position of government that while the local authorities in the Ghanzi District may facilitate the voluntary relocation of any Ranyane residents who freely wish to relocate elsewhere, under no circumstances should they or anyone else engage in any acts that may be reasonably regarded as an attempt to forcibly relocate those residents who wish to remain behind.
It says this position applies to all Ranyane residents and not just those covered under the June 18, 2013 Consent Court Order, which Government is a party to.
“The above message of non-interference and respect for those Ranyane residents who wish to remain where they are, has been conveyed to both the local authorities in Ghanzi and the Ranyane residents on two recent occasions by the Assistant Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Olebile Gaborone,” it states.
To reiterate, government wishes to completely disassociate itself from the referred to draft ‘Ranyane Relocation Phase II Work Plan’ and further reassures the residents of Ranyane and the public at large that its proposed timeline of actions has not, and shall not, be implemented, it further states.