The Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) is expected to be a huge money spinner for tourism big shots who will set up shop on the land where Basarwa were evicted.
Government is already in the process of awarding trading licenses to investors who wish to build lodges inside the CKGR.
This comes a few months after the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) ran advertisements inviting applications for concessions to run lodges inside the game reserve.
DWNP Director, Rapelang Mojaphoko, confirmed this week that they are in the process of awarding concession licenses.
This comes a few months after the new owners of the controversial diamond mine at the CKGR announced their plans to develop the site.
After wrapping up the purchase of the Gope Mine from De Beers in a 34 million dollar deal, Gem Diamonds announced plans to develop the diamond mine. The combined development between the diamond mine and lodges is expected to bring about unprecedented infrastructural development inside the reserve (including water, power, communication networks and roads).
For sometime, the government has resisted such developments insisting that it wanted to preserve the CKGR in pristine condition.
Basarwa living inside the game reserve currently do not have water and have indicated that they wished to install a water pump inside the game reserve.
Attorney General Dr Athaliah Molokomme wrote to the Basarwa lawyer, Duma Boko, recently that “your intention to install a pump at the Mothomelo borehole is, however, not accepted. As you may be aware, Mothomelo borehole is the property of the Botswana Government, which, according to the judgment, is not obliged to provide services to” Basarwa wishing to go back to the CKGR.
Basarwa also want the government to reinstate licenses for their two way communication radios. Before their relocation, residents of the reserve used two-way radios to maintain contact with the outside world. The radios were seized by the police after their licenses had expired and are now held at Ghanzi Police Station.
The Botswana Telecommunications Authority says it cannot process any application for new licenses without the written authority of the Director of DNWP. This is the effect of the 2000 Regulations which provide that: “No person shall within a national park or game reserve erect… any building, structure or facility except with the written authorization of the Director.
Boko argues that “A radio license is clearly not a building. We do not believe that it is a structure or a facility either.”
Boko asked the Attorney General to confirm that radio licenses will be given. “If authorization is refused without sufficient reason we are instructed to apply to the Court for appropriate relief.”
Molokomme pointed out that the issue of radio licenses was never discussed in court and that the confiscation of the radios was “clearly lawful because by your own admission, their licenses had expired. The Applicants should, therefore, follow the procedure laid down when applying for licenses to operate these radios. In the light of the foregoing, it follows that I have no basis for providing you with the confirmation you seek in your letter.”
In an interview with The Sunday Standard, DWNP director said there will be strict regulations and controls on how the lodges operate inside the game reserve and licence operators would be required to carry out environmental impact assessment surveys. She said this was part of their tourism development plan.