Mr. Stephen Corry’s harping about water in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Sunday Standard April 27 ÔÇô May 3, 2008, p9) comes as no surprise to the Ministry as he has employed similar tactics in the past trying to link the CKGR relocation with diamond mining using emotive statements to mislead and deceive unsuspecting members of the public.
Mr. Corry’s false allegations were not only dismissed by Government, but by numerous independent observers, including local and international media and NGOs. Mr. Corry’s dishonest ways and tactics about the CKGR relocation and mining are clearly exposed in the following statement in the High Court judgement; “The issue was not only irrelevant, but such assertion lacks credibility ……. While diamond mining as a reason for the CKGR relocations might be an emotive rallying point ……. the case before this Court does not fit that bill. It would be completely dishonest of anyone to pretend that that is the case before this Court” [Dow J. pp 192, 193, 194 of the judgement].
Mr. Corry’s recent outbursts are, therefore, nothing but a futile attempt to use water as an emotive rallying point to bully Government into acceding to his ill-informed demands.
The position of Government on this matter is clear and is consistent with the High Court ruling. Government would not be swayed by false information and distortions/misinterpretations about the reports of the UN Human Rights Committee and the US State Department being circulated by Mr. Corry and his London-based advocacy group.
It should be noted that Mr. Corry, unlike Government, is not accountable to anyone and cannot be held accountable by anyone anywhere for his disastrous propositions intended to condemn Basarwa to a life of poverty and deprivation.
Mr. Corry, or somebody who thinks like him and in his situation, cannot be expected to make any meaningful contribution on such complex and important national matters as the CKGR issue. As the Ministry has stated before, there are many legitimate and well-meaning NGOs that assist Basarwa and they do so in good faith and with integrity. These are welcome partners in Government’s efforts/endeavours to provide for the well-being of Basarwa and all other people who live under similar conditions as Basarwa in the remote parts of Botswana.
As for Mr. Corry and Survival International, it is quite evident that no amount of explanation or facts would move them on this matter and this brings the Ministry and people in Botswana to conclude that, as others who are familiar with Mr. Corry’s agenda have said, donations/funds raised from unsuspecting members of the public drive this malicious campaign against Botswana and his obsession with the CKGR relocation issue.
Members of the public, particularly in the UK, are advised not to make donations to Mr Corry and Survival International’s campaign against Botswana as supporting such activity is tantamount to condemning Basarwa of the Kalahari to a life of poverty and deprivation. Supporting such a cause would also be a disservice to a people who need healthcare, education and access to socio-economic opportunities that would help them, their children and future generations lead sustainable livelihoods.
Mr Corry and Survival International have been challenged to put on the table credible alternatives of sources of sustainable livelihoods for the affected communities but have so far failed to do that. Instead, they continue to subject the public to recycled falsehoods that Government denies Basarwa water and food. As the former resident of the CKGR attested, relocation outside the Game Reserve has opened opportunities for sustainable livelihoods which are and were not there for a settlement inside the Game Reserve. The Government of Botswana’s commitment to improving the wellbeing of all citizens of Botswana, including Basarwa of the Kgalagadi, remains unchanged. Botswana’s impressive track record in this respect speaks for itself and the ill-informed and short-sighted demands of the likes of Mr. Stephen Corry and his London-based advocacy group will not and cannot be accepted.
*Maribe is Head of Public Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs