The Central Kalahari Game Reserve case between Basarwa and the government of Botswana took a new twist last week when two residents of Mothomelo and Kikao in the CKGR filed an application with the High Court, seeking to be granted water rights to sink a borehole or to re-commission use of a prospecting hole for their water supply.
In an answering affidavit in the case, which was filed by Matsipane Mosetlhanyane and Gakenyatsiwe Matsipane, the Director of Wildlife and National Parks, Trevor Mmopelwa, said that he did not have powers to grant the two water rights to sink a borehole.
In the affidavit, which was prepared by Gaborone lawyer Boingotlo Toteng, Mmopelwa said that besides not having powers under the Water Act to grant such rights, the prospecting hole from which the Ghanzi District Council used to supply them with water is currently sealed by the government as the purpose for which it was drilled is non-existent.
Mmopelwa also said that he does not know if Mosetlhanyane and Matsipane are residents of Mothomelo and Kikao in the CKGR.
While the two insist that it is their constitutional right to reside in the CKGR, Mmopelwa absolved himself from the matter, saying that he is unable to deal with the issue as it is a matter for legal arguments.
He maintains that there was never a borehole in the place in question, saying that it was only a prospecting hole. He further denied information by Mosetlhanyane and Matsipane that government intends to allow them and others to bring their goats back into the CKGR after they were taken out in 2005.
Mmopelwa said that his understanding is that through the Revised National Settlement Policy, government recognizes that encroachment of settlements onto wildlife areas such as CKGR leads to sprawling and land use conflicts.
“Consequently, areas such as the CKGR should be reserved for wildlife and flora so as to enable proper management of the game reserve. It therefore follows that people who intend to live in the CKGR together with their domestic animals will not only defeat the purpose of having the CKGR as an area reserved for wildlife and flora conservation , but also make the management of CKGR extremely difficult in that there will be two conflicting rights existing side by side,” he said.
Mosetlhanyane and Matsipane insist that their place of residence, Mothomelo, is 40 kilometers away from Kaudwane where there is supply of water, and that the road condition between the two places is very bad. While Mmopelwa appreciates this fact he maintains that the two made their own choice to stay in Mothomelo and to live the life they are living, such that the hardships they are facing are of their own making.
He admitted that the prospecting hole was sealed by government and is currently not in use, but insists that the prospecting hole from which the Ghanzi District Council once supplied water to them is not a borehole within the meaning of the provisions of Water Act, and that it was never meant to be a source of water supply for Mostlhanyane and Matsipane but was rather drilled with a view to prospecting minerals.
Mmopelwa also quashed Mosetlhanyane and Matsipane’s request that they be allowed to bring water tanks or any other facility into the CKGR, saying that this will seriously compromise the very purpose for which the CKGR was established, in that there is a likelihood of turning CKGR from being a wildlife reserve and flora conservation area into a human habitat.
“In such a case, there will be nothing stopping the influx of human beings intending to settle in the CKGR. The government has declared and zoned the CKGR a wildlife reserve and a flora conservation area. That being the case, to allow human settlements in it will undoubtedly conflict with the purpose for which it was zoned,” he said.
The case will be heard by Lobatse High Court judge Lakhvinder Walia.