Friday, September 25, 2020

Government should not feel humiliated over the CKGR

It is very important that a long lasting settlement is reached between Basarwa of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Government.
Such a settlement is in the interest of the whole country, not least Basarwa and, of course, government.

If found, such a settlement would go a long way in acting as a precedent for conflict resolution between communities and government in Botswana.
The CKGR dispute has been long, untidy and, to a large extent, unwarranted.

In the end, it has allowed external interests with insidious ulterior motives to creep inside, carving themselves a corner as to become legitimate players in the standoff.
That is, unfortunately, especially because of the harm caused Botswana by the lack of flexibility by some of these foreign interests.

Government should not behave like them.
It should set itself a much higher bar of flexibility and, more importantly, magnanimity.
In reaching for such a settlement, it is important that all the parties (especially Government and Basarwa) do not feel humiliated.
We, however, note with sadness behaviour reminiscent of a siege mentality within the ranks of our government.

We urge our government not to feel humiliated by the outcome of the High Court case.
That can only harden attitudes towards one another and entrench feelings of ill will.

That would be tragic for our country.
As Sunday Standard we have always maintained that the CKGR issue was never going to be resolved at the courts.

We have always maintained that rather than a legal dispute, the CKGR standoff was a political matter, which could only be resolved through consensus building.
It should be a case where there are no winners and no losers.

Instead, everyone should emerge from it feeling a lot better and content than when they entered it.
That is a spirit we encourage among the parties.
Such a settlement, while primarily in the interest of Basarwa and all the involved communities, should in no way leave other parties with feelings of humiliation.

We have always maintained that the problem was political and not legal.
We knew that as much as it was important to await the outcome of the court case, the completion of such a case was on its own never going to bring about a solution.
We think its now time for reconciliation and constructive dialogue.

We think its time for healing and that can only come through a spirit of give and take; an open dialogue between all the parties.
Once again, we urge our government not to feel humiliated.

We welcome the initiative taken by President Festus Mogae last week to start an engagement with the Basarwa at New Xade and in other settlements.
The important thing is that as stated by the President in his address to New Xade residents, government retains its obligation to govern over the whole territory of Botswana, including over the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The outcome of the CKGR case has not been to suspend the rule of law over the land.
That was never the intention.

The fact that government could have lost the case does not in anyway mean that now people could start doing as they please.

There are laws governing entry into the Game Reserves, and we think such laws should be observed.

We know that lurking somewhere in the shadows behind Basarwa, who are genuinely fighting for their ancestral lands, are parasitic wild game poachers who have not the slightest interest of Basarwa at heart, but who are eyeing the CKGR as fertile poaching grounds.

Government should, while upholding human rights, not relent in its fight against wildlife poaching.

We also think that more innovative ways have to be found to assist Basarwa inside the Reserve to start community-based organizations that would empower local communities to be able to get more livelihood from their environs through tourism. It will not be easy, but we imagine with more education a lot can be achieved.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Such measures exist elsewhere in the region, including, on a smaller scale, inside Botswana in the Northwest District Council.

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