Sunday, October 17, 2021

Batswana ‘desperately poor’ despite country’s mineral wealth

Despite Botswana being home to 35 percent of Africa’s diamonds, most of which are gem quality, and being the world’s leading producer of diamonds by value, most people in Botswana and by extension the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have the worst health and poverty gap on the planet.

These were the findings of the Bench Marks Foundation chairperson Dr Jo Seoka, adding that few people in the region were extremely rich, while the vast majority of people were desperately poor, which is reflected by high unemployment, crime and corruption.

Bench Marks which has more than 100 monitors in 40 mining communities across South Africa, with a reach into Botswana, Zambia, and Mozambique, stated that: “Mining is seen as the holy cow of economics and as sacrosanct ÔÇô not to be questioned or challenged . . . despite hundreds of thousands of poor people living in abject poverty because of loss of arable land and livelihoods, aggravating health conditions, as well as cultural and social upheaval ÔÇô all of which manifest . . . in unemployment and push poor communities to the margins of society.” 

While Botswana also produces other minerals including copper, gold, nickel, and soda ash, diamonds remain Botswana’s main industry and account for the bulk of its gross domestic product.

He also said most companies promise corporate social investment, but in the end they never fulfill their promises leaving the people to suffer.

His findings also revealed that some of the countries which had the greatest mineral wealth are the same countries whose citizens are living in abject poverty with “with the highest rates of HIV/Aids infection”.

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