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How Botswana Runs Roughshod Over the Rights of Its Bushmen Minority

Botswana has moved Bushmen to resettlement camps and banned hunting.

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Later this year the Bushmen hope to challenge this scheme through the Courts. They will argue that the Sesana applicants sued not only for themselves but for all those who had been relocated in 2002, and that the government formally admitted this at the time. They will say that Bushmen removed from their homes in exactly the same circumstances as the Sesana applicants cannot have forfeited their legal and constitutional rights to return to the Reserve just because they did not have the same opportunity as the Sesana applicants to put their mark on the relevant court papers.

But whatever the outcome of the new claim, the government can always find ways to discourage those who have had the temerity to prefer life in the Kalahari. More damage may follow to the reputation of Botswana abroad, and there may be more misery to come for the Bushmen. The saga may end only when the people of the CKGR have died out - or the politicians have finally brought themselves to admit that, actually, these people should have the right to live as they want, and that the job of government is to help them to exercise that choice.

By the looks of things, this will not happen any time soon.

Gordon Bennett advised the tribal rights organization Survival International for the past 30 years, and is an expert in indigenous law.


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