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What sin has Basarwa & Bakgalagadi committed?

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Though it occasionally has lapses as was demonstrated by the John Kalafatis case, Botswana largely respects the rule of law. The Executive, for instance, has seldom flagrantly disobeyed a court judgment or order or interfered with court proceedings. The Executive has only sparingly used such constitutionally permissible limitations to the rule of law as the Director of Public Prosecutions’ right to prosecute or not to prosecute and the presidential prerogative of mercy in terms of sections 51 and 53 of the Constitution respectively.

Yet, in the case of Basarwa and Bakgalagadi, the Executive has at least once, through the Gantsi Administrative Authority, shown disregard for the rule of law. For instance, it ‘creatively’ made the High Court order ineffective when it, following the court’s order to stop the relocation of some tribesmen from Ranyane settlement to Bere settlement, stopped providing them with such essential services as free clean water and health. While government accomplished the former by taking away the borehole engine that sustained the residents, it achieved the latter by stopping the mobile clinic that serviced the residents.

Also, clearly calculated to make the court order meaningless and punish the Basarwa and Bakgalagadi who had taken it to court, government, through the Gantsi Administrative Authority, discontinued the Public Works Programme (Ipelegeng) which, according to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, was aimed at short term employment support and relief whilst at the same time carrying out essential development projects that have been identified and prioritized through the normal development planning process. Also, obviously intended to inflict suffering and to compel the residents to relocate to government’s preferred settlement of Bere, the government discontinued all other drought relief and poverty eradication programmes.

In a desperate attempt to justify its actions, the Gantsi Administrative Authority has, since the matter is now before the High Court, unashamedly defended its actions. We now consider such ‘justifications’ in turn.

Firstly, government’s suggestion that it discontinued such free services as provision of fuel and maintenance to the engine because the free services which were initially reserved for Basarwa tribes of Ranyane were no longer sustainable due to the influx of Tswana speaking farmers in the area is ludicrous to say the least.

The so-called ‘influx’ of the Tswana speaking farmers does not necessarily improve the Basarwa and Bakgalagadi’s socio-economic conditions. In fact, the increase in the population can put a strain on the available resources and make their socio-economic condition worse.  Also, elsewhere in the country such free services are extended to all people if there is need regardless of tribe and the duration they spent in the area.

Considering that the engine is the only means of drawing water from the only borehole in the settlement, there is no doubt that government’s decision is in violation of the United Nations General Assembly’s international consensus on the right to water which provides that the right to safe and clean drinking water is a fundamental human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights. Put differently, without access to clean drinking water all other rights cannot be enjoyed.

Government’s argument that the Ranyane residents had borrowed the engine and made an undertaking that they will take full responsibility of its maintenance and fuel supply is neither here nor there. If it is indeed true that the residents had borrowed the engine and made such undertakings such an agreement would be invalid and unenforceable considering the disadvantaged socio-economic situation the residents are in.

Where would they get the funds for such maintenance and fuel, especially that government terminated their source of income, Ipelegeng? In fact, the agreement, which would obviously have been burdensome on the residents, would defeat the very purpose government sought to achieve, i.e. alleviating the Basarwa and Bakgalagadi’s socio-economic hardships.

Secondly, government’s contention that the Ipelegeng programme was terminated because Ranyane is an ‘unrecognized settlement’ and therefore there were no projects to implement in the area is lame. If Ranyane is indeed an ‘unrecognized settlement’ why was the programme introduced in the first place?

How were public funds used on an ‘unrecognized settlement’ for so many years? Are all other ‘unrecognized settlements’ not accorded Ipelegeng? Can a democratic government let its citizens suffer socio-economic hardship and put their health in jeopardy simply because they reside in an ‘unrecognized settlement’?

Equally lame is government’s argument that at the time of the termination of Ipelegeng there were no projects to implement in the area. Evidence presented in court shows that at the time of termination residents were engaged in a number of projects including, de-bushing, cluster policing and cleaning the kgotla.

Further, through Ipelegeng, a kgotla, flush toilet, standpipe and fencing of the grave yard were constructed in the settlement. For as long as people continue to reside in an area there can never be no development projects to implement. Human existence depends on continuous development and Ipelegeng, though not the only means of developmental, is certainly one way of ensuring such development, especially in such settlements as Ranyane were unemployment, poverty and crime are rife. If Ipelegeng continues to be relevant in cities and towns it is inarguably relevant for Ranyane.

Also troubling is the contemptuous manner in which the Ipelegeng programme was terminated. Reportedly, when the programme was terminated a Council employee, not even the Council Secretary, was sent to inform the Ranyane Headman of Arbitration that he should inform his people that they should not report for duty on the 4th of July 2013.

This was improper considering that because it derived political mileage when the programme was introduced an announcement was made to the residents during a Kgotla meeting. The same thing should have been done when the programme was terminated. The truth is that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Council, knowing that their action was motivated by mala fides, were afraid to face the people for fear of political retribution.

No issue demonstrates government’s bad faith in this matter better than the discontinuation of the mobile clinic service to Ranyane. Should a people’s health be compromised because they reside in an ‘unrecognized settlement’? Would our government rather provide health care to animals, including wild animals, regardless of where they reside than to its people? Health is such an inalienable human right that no government should compromise it for political ends. It is our people’s life we are talking about here and no one has the right to put it in jeopardy just to settle legal or political disputes.

That it needed the institution of legal proceedings and an Initial Case Management Conference for government to realize the need to re-introduce the mobile clinic in Ranyane says a lot about how our government’s morality has decayed. It is indeed a stain on our otherwise admirable democratic record.

The Ranyane residents’ attorney, Onalethata Kamabai, is right in arguing that government’s action violated the residents’ legitimate expectation that they will continue to enjoy the services uninterrupted and that prior to any decision adversely affecting their enjoyment of the services is taken, they will be accorded a hearing. To the extent that no such hearing was held the decision is tainted with procedural impropriety and ought to be set aside by the court.

What sin has Basarwa and Bakgalagadi committed? Was their fight against relocation from their ancestral land, Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR), so sinful that it can attract such wrath from government? Have they committed any sin by proclaiming, as history affirms in the case of Basarwa, that they are the first inhabitants of Botswana? Was it a sin for them to enlist the services of Steven Corry’s Survival International and British Lawyer Gordon Bennett to defend their rights and culture? If such are sins they are sins worth committing and God will certainly pardon them.  

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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