The United Nations advised that the Government of Botswana lift the hunting ban to allow Basarwa to engage in hunting inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) before it was lifted last year, it has emerged.
In a letter addressed to former Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Seretse, former United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein states that Basarwa should be allowed to hunt inside the reserve by lifting the hunting ban.
The ban was lifted by President Mokgweetsi Masisi last year following recommendations of a task force but the recommendations were silent on whether Basarwa should hunt or not.
“In light of hunting being important for the livelihood of the Basarwa/San community, consider lifting the hunting ban,” Hussein states in his letter dated 7 August 2018.
He said: “In this context, due recognition should be given to the indigenous knowledge systems of the community which support the sustainable use of the environment, including traditional hunting and gathering practices. Engage with the indigenous peoples in the development of policies for the sustainable use of resources within the game reserves and federally-protected lands.”
Hussein also called on the Botswana Government to ensure that indigenous peoples are recognized in the Constitution and to enact legislation to protect their rights.
He also recommended that Botswana should: “Address the concerns of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights arising from the strong imbalance in recognition and power between Tswana and non-Tswana communities by engaging in a new era of nation-building which, from a cultural rights-based perspective, inter alia implied equal recognition and acknowledgement of the country’s various communities.”
Hussein also called on Botswana to: “Enhance the capacity of the kgotla system to take on board marginalized groups and people, such as women and minorities and recognize and respect the cultural patterns and traditional leadership structures of non-Tswana communities.”
On a related matter, a report which accompanied Hussein’s letter shows that the United Kingdom weighed in on the issue relating to Basarwa.
The United Kingdom (UK) sought to know “What steps has the Government of Botswana taken in partnership with the Basarwa/San towards agreeing a sustainable solution for managing settlement with the continuation of traditional hunting and gathering cultural practices in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve?”
The UK also sought to know “What additional resources are being allocated to the Office of the Ombudsman to ensure the National Human Rights Institution is established within that Office and is able to carry out its mandate effectively and comply with the Paris Principles.”