Sunday, July 14, 2024

CKGR residents spurn government’s overtures

Basarwa of Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CLGR) have petitioned the Ghanzi District Commissioner and Court of Appeal denouncing President Ian Khama’s Consultative Committee.

President Khama last year set up a Committee aimed at brokering ‘peace’ between Basarwa and government. Basarwa are now rejecting the Committee and the restoration of services in the Reserve.

In a letter dated 5th February 2016, that was addressed to District Commissioner Loeto Porati and copied to the Court of Appeal and High Court, the residents slammed Government decision to restore services in the CKGR.

The restoration of services included among other things, plans by government to drill a borehole in the Reserve. CKGR residents condemned the plan saying it amounted to contempt of court because one of the judgements stated that Government was not under obligation to drill boreholes in the CKGR. 

Denouncing the decision to restore services, Basarwa called on the government to be transparent and explain to them and their lawyers what motivated its decision to restore services in CKGR. 

“We would like to know how these services are different from the ones that government terminated in 2002. We also want to know if this is done in good faith,” They stated that  they had had drilled their own boreholes and did not need government’s intervention as it has since made it clear before courts that it would not restore services to CKGR. 

The Basarwa pointed out that government should have consulted them first because some of its decisions have a bearing on some court judgments and that government should respect the court decisions.

The residents said when they took government to court on numerous occasions they did not seek the introduction of tourism activities in CKGR but “wanted to be given our land back.”  By seeking tourism activities, the residents were referring to a community trust that government intends to set up in the Reserve.

“We would like to know how the trust is related to some of our rights which were reaffirmed by the High Court and Court of Appeal respectively.  Are these latest developments not in contempt of court,” the residents queried.

The residents stated that they were not officially aware of a Consultative Committee that was set up to negotiate with them in an effort to ensure that government and residents of CKGR smoke a peace pipe. They said they were confused by the role played by their estranged leader Roy Sesana in the negotiations and the Committee. Sesana recently reached a deal with Khama that would see the government supply Basarwa in CKGR with water. Sesana has also been employed by government as a CKGR community facilitator. Reports indicate that he will use his position to mobilise residents of CKGR to venture into the tourism business.

Basarwa said that there was a meeting that was held by Sesana and government officials and when they confronted him to explain what the purpose of the meeting was he claimed to be in the dark. They also pointed out that since Sesana was now a civil servant he was not fit to negotiate on their behalf.

Sesana shot to prominence in 1991 after he co-founded First People of Kalahari (FPK) together with the late John Hardbattle. The organisation’s primary mission was to promote Basarwa’s traditional way of life, which then was under attack from civilisation forces led by the government

District Commissioner Loeto Porati in his reply informed residents that the restoration of services in the Reserve was done by Government in conjunction with Ghanzi District Council. He advised residents to approach the Ghanzi District Council as it was the relevant authority to address their concerns. He also informed that he would refer their letter to the Ghanzi District Council.

For his part, Ghanzi Distinct Council Secretary Odirile Mabaila informed CKGR residents that government had made an arrangement that residents should nominate their own representatives who would represent them in some of the issues they raised in their letter. Mabaila said the representatives were the ones leading the negotiations with the government.

He informed residents that they should address some of the issues they raised in their letter to the Consultative Committee which in turn would forward them to government.


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