Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Botswana adopts unpopular position at UN to protect its scotched earth policy against Basarwa

Fresh information has emerged suggesting that Botswana did not support a United Nations resolution declaring access to water as a human right because government wanted to retain access to water as a political tool to force Basarwa out of the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR). In July 2010 ÔÇô at a time when Basarwa had filed a case with the High Court demanding access to water ÔÇô the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring clean water a “fundamental human right.” “The right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right is essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.” The resolution was passed with 122 nations in favor, none against, and 41 abstentions. Botswana was among the 41 countries that abstained from voting.

Although Botswana has the best access to running drinking water in Saharan Africa, even better than South Africa, it was the only country in the continent that did not support the UN resolution. The vote on the UN resolution declaring clean water a ‘fundamental human right” came at a time when Basarwa had taken the Botswana government to court demanding access to water. The High Court had in 2006 declared the forced eviction of Basarwa from the CKGR as illegal and unconstitutional and government was left with access to water as the only weapon on their political tool kit. Despite the ruling, the government banned the Bushmen from re-commissioning the borehole, leaving them to face what the UN’s top official on indigenous peoples, James Anaya, described as, ‘harsh and dangerous conditions due to a lack of access to water’.

At the same time, Wilderness Safaris opened a luxury tourist lodge, complete with bar and swimming pool, on Bushman land; the government drilled new boreholes in the reserve to provide water for wildlife with funding from the Tiffany & Co Foundation; and Gem Diamonds was given environmental clearance to mine in the reserve on condition the Basarwa could not use any of its water. Basarwa were also barred from bring in water from outside the CKGR.


Read this week's paper