Khama snubs bushmen

2010-02-12 10:58

Gaborone - Hundreds of Botswana bushmen, evicted from their lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002, on Thursday accused President Ian Khama of refusing to listen to their complaints about access to water.

"We were hoping that the president would address the problem of the water and we would have got responses that showed that there was a relationship between us and him," said bushmen spokesperson, Jumanda Gakelebone.

"But it didn't interest him to talk to us. We have not had the slightest chance to express ourselves," he added.

Khama, who was elected last October, was visiting resettlement camps where many bushmen still languish despite a three year-old High Court ruling that they have the right to live in the reserve.

A government spokesperson could not be contacted for comment.

Since the court ruling, the government has banned the Bushmen from accessing a water borehole on their lands without which they struggle to find enough water.

Legal proceedings

After attempts to negotiate with the government failed, the bushmen launched legal proceedings to gain access to their borehole.

The San bushmen are southern Africa's first inhabitants.

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve was set up to protect their way of life, but after diamonds were discovered there, the bushmen were resettled outside the reserve.

As the traditional way of life has been lost they are unable to hunt and have become dependent on government aid and prey to alcoholism and HIV.

Despite the 2006 ruling in the Botswana High Court that their eviction was unlawful, Survival International says some 50 bushmen have since been arrested for hunting.

Only some 100 000 bushmen remain in Southern Africa, spread across Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.