In an opinion piece published in last week’s edition of The Sunday Standard, [How Government denied Basarwa justice ÔÇô Sunday Standard, February 17, 2008 p8] Stephen Corry of Survival International alleges that Government did not provide information on its decisions relating to the implementation of the December 13, 2006 High Court ruling on the CKGR relocation issue. That Mr. Corry feigns ignorance on this matter comes as no surprise to the Ministry as that is part of his elaborate plan to deceive unsuspecting members of the public as he fundraises on this emotive issue for his London-based advocacy group.
The Botswana Government issued several statements on December 14, and 18, 2006 and March 17 2007 outlining its understanding of the Court Order and the steps it was taking to implement the decision of the Court. All this information is in the public domain and surely Stephen Corry could not have missed it. Government has upheld the December 2006 High Court ruling and claims to the contrary are false. Mothomelo borehole is Government property and the Court decision clearly spells it out that Government is not obliged to provide services inside the CKGR and, as such, the people who returned to the Game Reserve were informed that they would have to make their own arrangements for water and in that regard are at liberty to bring in unlimited amounts of water into the CKGR for domestic use.
On hunting, Special Game Licenses (SGLs), valid for a period of one (1) year were issued to eligible applicants at New Xade between 04 and 06 September 2007 and at Kaudwane between 04 and 19 October 2007. A total of 116 special game licenses were issued. Those whose special game licenses were not renewed were either not at their settlements, were engaged in gainful employment or had pending poaching cases at the time of issuance of licenses. All the people who were in the Game Reserve refused to have their special game licenses renewed, stating that they had not been instructed to do so by their lawyers and organizations. A special game license is issued free of charge and it entitles the holder to hunt the following species and number of animals in Wildlife Management (WMAs) ÔÇô Battered fox (10); Black backed jackal (50); Side stripped jackal (50); Monitor lizard (10); Caracal (10); Duiker (5); Gemsbok (2); Kudu (1); Impala (2); Silver fox (10); Springbok (2); Steenbok (5); Wildcat (15) and all birds except conserved species. Records of arrests often cited by Survival International indicate that, on the 19th May 1997, four (4) males from New Xade were arrested having illegally hunted and killed three (3) Eland inside the CKGR. On the 21st June 2007, five (5) men from New Xade were arrested for killing six (6) Gemsbok and one (1) Kudu and in possession of 73 bundles of game meat biltong which indicated that far more animals were slaughtered. On the 25th June 2007, three (3) men from New Xade were arrested having illegally killed six (6) Eland and one (1) Kudu, using three (3) horses, ten (10) donkeys, dogs and spears to track, chase and kill the wildlife. On the 27th June 2007, four (4) men were arrested for possession of 53 bundles of game meat biltong and a giraffe skin. On the 4th July 2007, six (6) men, probably on a poaching mission, were seen entering the CKGR with four (4) horses and twenty-three (23) donkeys. Efforts to track the group have so far borne no fruit. On the 12th August 2007, five men from Kaudwane were arrested for poaching in the CKGR. This massive slaughter of wildlife cannot be permitted.
With regard to mining, Government has stated that wherever a mine is developed only a small area immediately around the deposit, i.e. within a 40 sq km radius, is normally cordoned off for the mine proper. A mine normally has a lifespan and indications are that Gope will have an estimated lifespan of 17 years at the end of which remediation will commence to rehabilitate the area back to a wilderness state. The type of settlement that those opposed to the CKGR relocation want is a permanent settlement whose area will overtime have to be expanded in order to accommodate population increases and expansion of livelihood activities. This will no doubt in the long run impact negatively on efforts to preserve the unique wildlife heritage inside the CKGR.
*Clifford Maribe is Head of Public Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.