Thursday, June 03, 2010

Botswana V Bushmen

Socialist Banner previously reported on the plight of the indigenous San people (Bushmen) being deprived of access to water by the Botswana government here . We now read that in desperation the Bushmen are taking legal measures to assert their basic human right to water. They are taking the government of Botswana to court over its refusal to allow them access to a water borehole on their land. The case is due to be heard at Botswana’s High Court in Lobatse on 9 June 2010.

Jumanda Gakelebone, a Bushman from the CKGR, explained "The High Court said we have the right to live on the land of our ancestors. Surely that includes the right to drink our water. Many Bushmen, especially the old people and the young are suffering from lack of water. It pains us that the animals and tourists on our land can drink our water to their heart’s content yet we go thirsty. We pray that the court will give us back our water."

It is claimed by Survival International and others that the Kalahari was being emptied so that tourists would have uninterrupted views of wildlife. The Botswana Tourism Board, a government body, won a World Travel and Tourism Council award which recognizes "dedication to and success in maintaining a programme of sustainable tourism management". Wilderness Safaris built a safari lodge on the ancestral land of the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, without consulting the Bushmen or obtaining their consent.The lodge, sporting a bar and swimming pool for tourists, is situated on the ancestral territory of the Bushmen who are being deprived of water.Survival director, Stephen Corry, yesterday said, "The Botswana Tourism Board is violating UN norms on indigenous peoples. If this is prize-winning ‘sustainable tourism’, it highlights the emerging conflict between tribal peoples and the way their lands are used to benefit rich tourists and the companies which service them..."

At the same time, diamond firms are understood to have the government’s support for fresh prospecting in the reserve, which is the size of Denmark. It has given the Gem Diamond company permission to open a mine in the reserve.

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