Leader of The First People of The Kalahari, Roy Sesana is in danger of losing his position following a backlash to a deal he recently entered into with government. Basarwa will next week converge at the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve to decide Sesana’s fate and to discuss and endorse a list of demands which amount to a revolt against the deal Sesana recently entered into with government. Basarwa tribesmen spokesperson and New Xade Councilor Jumanda Gakelebone confirmed this week that they intend to meet in CKGR next week to discuss Roy Sesana’s employment by the Government and to make an official decision on whether he should be ousted or retained as their leader.
Gakelebone who used to be Sesana’s right hand man and his interpreter said a considerable number of CKR residents are incensed at Sesana’s decision to abandon them and become what they perceive as a government stogie. He said Basarwa have made it clear that after he was appointed a public servant, Sesana ceased to be their leader or representative. Hence there is need to map the way forward and possibly choose someone who could represent their interests without being conflicted or compromised. The Basarwa have come up with a list of demands suggesting that they are rejecting the deal brokered by Sesana. First on the list of demands is that they should appraise them on why it decided to restore services it terminated in the CKGR following illegal relocations around 2002.
The second demand is that should the two parties reach an agreement on the reinstatement of services, the deal should be committed to paper. “It should be made in writing that there will never be any relocation from CKGR and that services will never be terminated again,” said Gakelebone. He says the agreement should be legally binding. “We are not taking our hard fought return to the CKGR lightly. We retained our land through a court order and it is unbecoming of the government to be trying to restore service through the backdoor. It should follow the right channels as provided for in the laws of this country,” he said. He added that “there is a court judgment that saw us retaining our land and now the government is attempting to temper with that judgment through shenanigans to lure us into a trap. If push comes to shove we should go to court and have the Government correct the wrongs that it has done to Basarwa,” he said.
He said “the Government should consult all Basarwa of CKGR and not Roy Sesana alone because when we launched a court action against the Government for illegal relocations, it was not Sesana alone. He was representing Basarwa.” Gakelebone believes the Government is advancing its own interest at the expense of Basarwa’s rights. Should Basarwa buy into Government’s change of heart and alleged benevolence without a written and binding agreement, they will live to regret it. “We have strong reservations about government’s intensions regarding the latest development. We will not rush into agreeing with the government before adequate answers are given. All along the government has been unaccountable to Basarwa,” he said.
The Basarwa activist added that “We are not sitting idle; we are busy strategizing on how we should counter the government’s divide and rule approach. Basarwa deserve to know what necessitated the restoration of services in CKGR because that is not part of the court order.” Gakelebone expressed shock that some ruling BDP councilors at Ghanzi District Council recently showered Sesana with praises and depicted him as a hero who deserved accolades for having fought for the rights of his people. “They say he is a hero and not an insane man that they had all along believed him to be. They say it is against that background that justified his appointment as public servant who will ensure that projects and developments are delivered to Basarwa for a period of three years,” said Gakelebone. He says a number of Basarwa have approached him demanding an explanation to the recent move by Government to employ Sesana as a public servant in charge of Government projects in their areas.
“I told them that I was blank as they were.” Gakelebone also added that “CKGR residents wanted to know what Sesana can achieve in three years that the Government failed to achieve in more than 50 years. I told them that I will take up the issue with Sesana so that he can unravel this whole mystery.” Gakelebone believes that the appointment of Sesana is a calculated move by government to divide Basarwa and weaken their activism. “They want to silence him but they have underestimated our collective strength as Basarwa because Sesana is not Basarwa .When they sidelined Basarwa and approached Sesana alone they were under the impression that they had managed to infiltrate Basarwa activism. They can silence Sesana not that Basarwa,” warned Gakelebone. He said at the moment they intend to mobilize Basarwa and discuss the matter before they could seek help from outside.
Another prominent CKGR resident, Mogolodi Moeti said Basarwa demand that “The government should first of all take responsibility for the atrocities meted against Basarwa by its security agents.” Moeti said no steps have been taken to consult Basarwa instead government continues to restore services piece meal. “CKGR is under threat again and we call all Basarwa of CKGR to unite in the face of these shenanigans. Sesana has been led to cherish the illusion that by being appointed a civil servant he is standing for the rights of Basarwa. Government should not dictate everything in CKGR; it is our land, we managed to retain it through numerous court battles, it did not come cheap,” he said.