First People of the Kalahari (FPK) has temporarily suspended its legal action against the government pending talks with President Ian Khama.
FPK leader, Roy Sesana, said that this was the pre-condition set by government before it could engage in talks with his organisation.
FPK, which initiated the talks, wants the government to restore services inside the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve which discontinued when it moved the residents out.
Although he indicated that he was not at liberty to discuss details of the deal, FPK’s assistant coordinator, Jumanda Gakelebone, confirmed what Sesana said about suspension of the court case being a condition for the talks going ahead.
Gakelebone added though: “But if the talks fail, we will go ahead with the court case.”
Government spokesperson, Dr. Jeff Ramsay, said that he was not aware of this deal.
FPK’s first contact with the new administration was on June 12 when its delegation, which was led by Sesana, opened talks with the government.
The meeting was also attended by ministers Margaret Nasha of Local Government and Kitso Mokaila of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism as well as the attorney general, Athaliah Molokomme.
Afterwards, the government put out a statement that read: “The two sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues relating to the welfare of Basarwa in the CKGR and the surrounding settlements. It was agreed that there was a need to recognize the commitment by Government to providing these communities, along with other Batswana, with developments such as education, employment, health and other socio-economic amenities that will improve their quality of life. It was also acknowledged that such developments are not necessarily inconsistent with the rich and unique culture of these communities, and that these can coexist in a manner that is mutually beneficial.”
Following the meeting, Khama asked Sesana to identify two representatives from each of the communities in the CKGR and surrounding settlements, to constitute a team to engage in consultations with the Government. That is what Sesana is still trying to do. ┬á
Though the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere, the two parties still do not agree on very basic things ÔÇô like figures.
It is unclear how many people have gone back to the game reserve. The spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Clifford Maribe, says the figure has been fluctuating between 10 and 50 people who reside at Gugama, Metsiamanong and Molapo.
“People frequently move in and out of the Game Reserve to access services provided by Government at Kaudwane and New Xade,” he said.
On the other hand, Gakelebone puts the figure between 200 and 300 people. Part of the problem may have to do with the fact that those who qualify for residence are now free to move in and out of the game reserve as they please.