As the country celebrates 50 years of independence, United Kingdom (UK) based resilient Non-Governmental organization Survival International (SI) this week renewed its attack on Botswana Government for its continual ill treatment of the Basarwa of Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).
The controversial NGO categorically stated that they target Botswana’s golden jubilee to further de-campaign the country – which gained independence from the British in 1966.
The move follows previous de-campaigns that were directed to the international community to boycott Botswana diamonds as well as tourism – which are the backbone of her economy.
“Survival International has launched a campaign calling for an end to a draconian system in Botswana which has broken Bushmen families apart and denied them access to their land. Critics such as veteran anti-apartheid activist Michael Dingake have compared the system to the apartheid-era pass laws, and therefore Survival calls for end to that Bushmen’s apartheid,” a statement from the London based organization stated on Tuesday.
“The call comes in the fiftieth anniversary year of Botswana’s independence,” SI highlighted.
According to the statement, on the subject of the fiftieth anniversary, a certain Motswana of Sesarwa tribe told Survival, “I don’t even know anything about these celebrations.
They are doing this so that people will not think they are a bad government. They are celebrating; we are not. We’re still feeling the same way. They’ve been celebrating for the last 49 years.”
SI’s Director Stephen Corry pointed out in the statement that, “the Botswana government has viciously persecuted the Bushmen (Basarwa) for decades, first with violent evictions and then with a permit system designed to break families apart. If Botswana still wants to be seen as a “shining light” of democracy in Africa, it needs to listen to the Bushmen, uphold its own court’s ruling and end this appallingly unjust restriction on the Bushmen’s right to live on their ancestral land in the CKGR. I hope that this historic year will mark the end of the decades long persecution of the Bushmen.”
Survival International highlighted that most Basarwa are still forced to live in government resettlement camps, rather than on their land in the CKGR. It recalls that after having been brutally evicted and forced into government camps between 1997 and 2002, the tribe won a historic court victory in 2006 recognizing their right to live on their land in the CKGR.
Since then, however, this right has only been extended to the small number of the people named in court papers, SI said, “their children and close relatives are forced to apply for permits just to visit them, or risk seven years in prison, and children born and brought up in the reserve have to apply for a permit when they turn 18. Many fear that once the current generation has passed away, the Bushmen will be shut out of their land forever.”
It is understood that the government resettlement camps are poorly supplied, and diseases like HIV/AIDS are rife.
Survival has also written a letter to both President Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama and the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, who is also the President’s blood brother, Tshekedi Khama and cautioned them to uphold the court ruling as they celebrate the golden jubilee of the country’s 50th anniversary.
“I am extremely concerned to learn that, 10 years since the High Court ruling, the majority of the Bushmen from the CKGR still cannot live freely in their ancestral home,” the letter from the human rights organization to the Khamas reads in part.
In addition to this, Survival asserts that Botswana's hunting ban criminalizes the Basarwa as “poachers” when they hunt to feed their families, even though the court ruled that this was “tantamount to condemning them to death.”
“I urge you to mark this historic year by fully upholding the court ruling in time for Independence Day,” the non-profit organization concluded.
For his part, Botswana Government Chief Spokesperson Dr. Jeff Ramsay rubbished SI in an interview with Weekend Post while insisting that their campaigns have not impacted negatively on Botswana and so they doubt it will ever do this time around in their fresh campaign against the country.
“They have not impacted on our diamond industry, and even our tourism industry is still intact, their campaigns have never directly affected us,” Ramsay stressed.
Besides, the government mouthpiece rhetorically asked “who in the whole world cares about SI? For starters they said the international community should boycott Botswana diamonds and tourism but people ignored them!”
He added that, SI “have not been saying anything new for the past 10 to 20 years calling for Botswana’s economic collapse but failed in their de-campaign.”
Some Basarwa were relocated under a dark cloud from the CKGR to settlements outside the camps particularly New Xade, and, although government had denied several times that the forced relocation was to pave way for mining activities in the reserve, a diamond mine was later constructed in the CKGR following the evasion.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.