Basarwa activist Roy Sesana on Monday accused President Ian Khama and Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Minister Tshekedi Khama of an attempt to starve Basarwa out of Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) by imposing a hunting ban in the Reserve.
Sesana said the latest development to impose a hunting ban was designed in such a way that it applied to various places across the country but it was aimed at keeping Basarwa out of their ancestral land.
According to Sesana, he regrets celebrating a 2006 landmark Lobatse High Court judgement that had ruled in their favour in a case in which they were challenging their relocation from CKGR by the government.
When the Court ruled in their favour eight years ago, Sesana had said the decision was a major victory for his people, but in an interview this week, Sesana described his 2006 celebration as having deceived himself adding that he apologises to his tribesmen and Batswana sympathetic to Basarwa’s cause. ┬á
“Remember that during the forced relocation, my people were loaded in trucks like goods and when the Court ruled that the relocation was illegal, government did not see it fit to bring them back into CKGR in the same trucks,” he said.
He said eight years down the line, the 2006 Lobatse High Court landmark judgement that they had celebrated is back to haunt them because government is not complying with court decisions which he said among others ordered government to offer Basarwa special permits to hunt in the CKGR.
“President Ian Khama and his brother Tshekedi decided to ban hunting without consulting us. It was a calculated move to starve us out of CKGR. They know that we are dependent on hunting and they decided to ban hunting in CKGR,” he said.
Sesana said the President Khama and his brother were aware that if they imposed the hunting ban, Basarwa would find it difficult to survive in the CKGR because government is not obliged to provide social amenities in the reserve.
“I had celebrated following the court judgement that we got the land only to realise now that it was just a fa├ºade. It is true that we got the land but is it worthy when we cannot depend on it for survival? We are powerless without the land and there is nothing we can do because we don’t have financial and legal muscles to fight the government,” he said.
┬áSesana said after the government imposed the ban, it achieved what he called its devilish mission by banning their lawyer Gordon Bennett from entering the country. ┬á
“The government watched as we celebrated knowing that it would use other means to get at us. You know I don’t have a problem with the court decisions, but non-compliance by the government? If you study the events as they unfold you would agree with me that the government’s is always planning ahead as to how it can punish us,” he said.
Sesana said he had not been quiet recently on issues affecting Basarwa but had been away in CKGR to witness what he called death by starvation due to government policies aimed at starving Basarwa out off CKGR.
He said there were a number of lodges built in CKGR but some Basarwa inside the Reserve continue to struggle to have access to portable water.
“I was not fighting for a portion of CKGR or a piece of land but for the whole land in the Reserve,” he
Minister Khama could not be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered.