Government renews assault on Bushmen

Bushman woman, CKGR, Botswana 2004
Bushman woman, CKGR, Botswana 2004
© Survival International

Botswana’s government sent trucks full of police and wildlife scouts into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) yesterday to confiscate goats from Bushmen who have returned to their ancestral homes.

The Bushmen, whose goats had been confiscated in 2002 when they were unlawfully evicted from the reserve, only received their livestock back in recent weeks.

The Attorney General had promised the Bushmen that they could take their goats back to their homes in the reserve, and government vets had certified the animals as free from disease.

But officials from the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism have targeted the Bushmen’s small herds, apparently concerned that they do not fit in with the image of the CKGR they wish to promote. The government is promoting a scheme to build a tourist lodge near the Bushman community of Molapo in the reserve – the same community now being targeted.

Goats provide the Bushmen with an essential source of nourishment, particularly during the dry season. This need is even more acute since the government has barred the Bushmen from using their old water borehole.

Jumanda Gakelebone of the Bushman organisation First People of the Kalahari said today, ‘As Bushmen of the CKGR we were thinking that our issues with the government could be solved and come to an end. The position that the Ministry of Tourism is taking means there are no negotiations. We as Bushmen appeal to the nation of Botswana and say that the battle between the government and the Bushmen of the CKGR is starting. For two years we tried to talk with the government. Now our campaign is beginning again.’

Survival International’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘For two years the Bushmen have been trying to get the government to sit down with them and discuss their rights. So far the government’s only response has been to send in truckloads of police to take back the livestock they have only just returned. It’s hard to believe just how petty and bullying the government’s actions are. They ought to have realised by now that the Bushmen aren’t so easily bullied.’

For more information contact Jumanda Gakelebone (First People of the Kalahari)  on (267) 7190 9972 or Miriam Ross (Survival International) on (44) 20 7687 8734/ mr@survival-international.org