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Basarwa in Boteti demand their ancestral land back

Keletso Thobega

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Basarwa in the Boteti area are disgruntled that they have been kicked off their ancestral land without any consultation or compensation.  Since December 2017 there have been land displacements that have not only confused the residents but also taken them further away from basic resources, plunging them into further poverty and struggle.

The Spokesperson of Botswana Khwedom Council Banyatsi Salutu fumed in an interview with The Midweek Sun that the landboard does not acknowledge the importance of ancestral land nor uphold the rights of Basarwa. “They make decisions and implement them without consulting us. Basarwa are entitled to their land and should not be kicked out like that. It violates their human rights,” he said.

Salutu said that they had proposed that local government conduct a commission on the ancestral land but nothing had transpired to date. “They told us that they’d meet and discuss the matter but they did not get back to us.When we reach out to them they tell us that they are still busy because there have been changes in the minsitry since Tsogwane (VP Slumber Tsogwane) changed office.” Salutu said that the Botswana Khwedom Council should be engaged on the matter because they understand better the issues related to Basarwa and other indigenous tribes and also represent their ideals. He noted that affirmative action was not implemented and that remote areas Acts such as the RADP did not benefit the Basarwa. He said that the Land policy doesn’t intricately make amends for ancestral land. “Instead, the policy discriminates and violates the rights of the Basarwa,” he said.

Salutu pointed out that in 2014 former president Ian Khama visited them and they aired their grievances about the land to him. “He instructed that the Basarwa in the area be allocated their land. However, this has not happened.” He added that they were instead told that the land belonged to Bakhurutshe bo rra Sekwe.

“This has now created tribal tensions,” he said. He noted that all they wanted was to be given back their land or moved to an area that is closer to basic amenities and resources.” Ancestral land in Botswana is a longstanding issue centred on land historically occupied by the Basarwa and other indigenous tribes. Botswana government has over the years come under fire for relocating the Basarwa from their ancestral land to make way for farms and mining.

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Sun ePaper Wednesday 20 May 2020

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Sun ePaper Wednesday 13 May 2020

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