Leaders of opposition parties in the country are accusing the government of unwillingness to solve the Central Kalahari Game Reserve inhabitants issue over the rights of water.
The issue has seen the two camps engage in a protracted legal tussle, which opposition leaders say is tarnishing the image of the country internationally.
Amongst those accusing the government is the Botswana Congress Party Secretary General, Taolo Lucas who says the government should have acted humanely in this case and provided water for the inhabitants of CKGR, regardless of the first High Court judgment.
That judgment ruled that the government does not have an obligation to provide the inhabitants with services, such as provision of water.
”The judgment had found that the CKGR inhabitants have the right to live in the game reserve and the government should then have seen it as her duty to provide them with water, like she is doing with other citizens elsewhere in the country,” he said.
The BCP Secretary General added that the inhabitants of CKGR are by far the most marginalized in the country at the moment and that the government is making the matters worse by denying them water, which is a basic need in life, adding that this is causing great harm to the image of Botswana internationally.
Akanyang Magama, the Secretary General of Botswana National Front, concurred with Lucas saying that water is a basic necessity of life which should not be denied to people anywhere in the world, Botswana included. This, he said, has always been the party’s stance on the issue since it began way back in 2006 and that, to show their disapproval of government’s policy on the issue, they had held demonstrations against the government’s policy.
Magama said that the solution to the issue is for the government to supply the inhabitants with water, as should be the case, to avoid the present situation where they are suffering and having to travel for hundreds of kilometers to get water.
On whether the issue is tarnishing the image of the country, Magama said, “What image are you talking about now? This country has long lost its image internationally.”
For his part, the Secretary General of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, DR Coma Serama, said that though it is true that the issue is to some extent tarnishing the image of Botswana internationally, the inhabitants of CKGR are also to blame because they have chosen the route of litigation over the matter instead of one of negotiations.
”This is their government, they should have opted for the path of negotiations instead of litigations against the government, which has not borne them any fruit,” he charged.
When told that the feeling amongst the CKGR inhabitants is that negotiations have not borne them any fruit either as they have been going on for years without resolutions, he said, ”What has litigation they had opted for brought them then?”
The only solution in this matter, he says, lies with negotiations and that his feeling is that both parties should resume negotiations as even an appeal to the Court of Appeal might not help.
Lawyers representing the CKGR residents recently stated that they intended to appeal against the judgment that was recently passed by Lobatse High Court judge Lashkavinder Walia, which, amongst other things, stated that the CKGR inhabitants have chosen the difficult life of leaving in the CKGR where there are no services on their own and that they should not be allowed to drill their own borehole as it is against regulations to do so.