Thursday, September 24, 2020

Will Khama come to the side of the CKGR Basarwa?

In the past three weeks, government has come up with a raft of policy announcements that have shocked even its insiders.

While in his inaugural speech President Ian Khama promised a change in emphasis but not substance, the reality on the ground is almost such that there has been a transition that brought a former opposition party into government.

Cynics have already started murmuring that the import of the whole far reaching changes is that for the past ten years when he was Vice President, Ian Khama lay low but did not support many of the policies of a government of which he was a very senior member.

Cynics say a strategist that he is, Khama was able to bite the bullet and bid his time for all those years, in the full knowledge that his turn for a bite at the cherry will finally arrive.

It’s still too early to make judgments on Khama’s presidency. He has been in power for only a month. It would, therefore, be premature to come to the conclusion that Khama’s policy announcements have not been well thought through.

While critics have already started punching holes on the sustainability of the whole thing, we can only give him the benefit of the doubt in the hope that during those ten years that he was Vice President, the man was quietly mapping out his intentions for the future of the country.

Having said that, we want to point out that we are disappointed by President Khama’s silence on this issue, which has always separated us very strongly from the BDP government.

We feel the same urgency that Khama is giving to other policy matters, like citizen empowerment, should be extended to the people that his government uprooted from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

For far too long, the people of CKGR have suffered untold misery and humiliation at the hands of their government.

It is not an exaggeration to say it is exactly the attitude of government towards Basarwa in the CKGR that this community has now come to accept their unenviable fate as second class citizens.

We urge President Khama to show grace by using the unprecedented opportunity offered by his arrival as the new President, his public goodwill and shift in government policy direction and open a new chapter by way of engaging in fresh talks with Basarwa removed from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Basarwa have gone to the High Court over their unfair treatment by the Botswana government.

The courts have found in their favour.
While the Government has chosen not to appeal the judgment, they have also chosen not to abide by the ruling.

The lack of generosity and grace demonstrated by government’s parochial implementation and interpretation of the judgment is unfortunate.
It is a recipe for a continued standoff between a marginalized community, in the form of the Basarwa in the CKGR, and their government.

No single issue has caused more damage, more pain and more embarrassment to Botswana’s reputation than the CKGR stand off.

No single issue in Botswana’s entire history has proved more of an international public relations crisis for Botswana than the CKGR issue..
We simply cannot, as a nation, continue to behave like everything is normal when a section of our nation continues under what is by all intents and purposes a humiliating existence.

The paternalism and chauvinism shown by government against its own people has to be brought to an end.

The only person best placed to change the course of history on this shameful turn of events is Ian Khama..

We hope as he continues to make weekly announcements on policy shifts, the cocktail will also include something positive for the people of the CKGR.

Khama has the best opportunity on this issue to prove his democratic credentials.

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