Botswana opposition party leaders have accused the government of dishonesty in dealing with the issue of the relocation of Basarwa from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).
The accusations follow after the recent announcement that the government had granted permission to a diamond company, Gems Diamonds Limited, to mine diamonds in the reserve.
Botswana National Front President, Duma Boko, said that the announcement was a sign that the government has been very dishonest on the issue from the very beginning.
“This is a sign that the government has been dishonest to Batswana and Basarwa on dealing with the CKGR issue,” he said.
Boko further said that the dishonesty of government has now caught up with them, adding that this showed that the government has been wastefully spending millions of pula on public relations battles abroad when it knew that Survival International was saying the truth about the removals being meant to pave way for the mining of diamonds in the reserve.
Boko said that the government has now proved to the nation that it is not worthy of anybody’s loyalty and respect.
He further warned that the government must take Batswana seriously or risk facing a situation such as that currently crippling Tunisia.
MELS President, Themba Joina, concurred with Boko that, in dealing with the Basarwa issue, the government had been dishonest to both Basarwa and Batswana.
Joina says this confirms that Survival International‘s actions had been genuine all along, despite accusations that it was unnecessarily meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
He says what hurts most is that the government has spent years and money trying to prove that SI was wrong when they knew that the correct fact was exactly what SI was saying.
”This is a government in denial and I do not think, after all this, it is worth of anybody’s respect,” he stressed.
The Botswana Movement for Democracy spokesperson, Sidney Pilane, said that the government had, by this action, “proved to be dishonest and to be a government whose word cannot be trusted, not only in this matter but in many other matters”.
For his part, the Secretary General of the Botswana Congress Party, Taolo Lucas, said that, whilst they have no issue with the government granting mining licenses to any company anywhere in the country, they have an issue with the contradictory statements that the government has been making on the issue.
Lucas, like other opposition party leaders before him, says what the government did is a clear sign of dishonesty and that this invites criticism from both Batswana and the international community.
Lucas also said that now that it appears that the CKGR, which the government had all along insisted had not been a demarcated human settlement, has now had its purpose changed to human settlement and they are demanding that Basarwa in the reserve be given all they have been asking for, including water.
The Botswana Government has all along denied that the relocation of Basarwa was meant to pave way for the mining of diamonds in the reserve and always insisted that it was doing so for the sake of preserving nature in the reserve.
Next week, the Court of Appeal is scheduled to pass judgment in a case some residents of CKGR want to be given permission to sink a borehole in the reserve after the government had sealed a borehole, which used to supply them with water.