- Govt clashes with Basarwa over CKGR burials
- Visiting Basarwa end up dying within CKGR
- Gantsi Council burdened with CKGR funeral costs
- Compensated Basarwa flock back into CKGR to benefit from food rations
The Gantsi District Council has written to the Office of the President (OP) and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development asking for assistance, following the flocking back to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) of Basarwa who previously voluntarily left in 2006.
As well as returning to access monthly food rations services recently restored in the game reserve, Basarwa who return to CKGR insist on burying their deceased there.
“It is true that we have written to the president and the Ministry of Local government. You will understand that the CKGR matter is a sensitive matter in which we are not handling alone but together with the elders. What is happening is that we are now facing fresh challenges and differences of opinion on how to resolve them. As you may be aware we have Basarwa who were compensated out of the reserve and those who opted to remain within the reserve. These groups are however still very much connected and that brings a lot of challenges,” said Gantsi Council Chairman, Galetlhaole Sixpence confirming communication with OP and the ministry.
The change of mind by Basarwa is viewed as counterproductive by the council especially as it says government agreed to meet them halfway by restoring some services that were suspended in the CKGR. Further to this, the council says it has been operating on a negative Destitution Budget which is burdened by the Basarwa trek back. “The food rations do not last as a result and that defeats the whole purpose of the kind gesture by the government,” explained Sixpence.
As an added challenge, the council says some Basarwa who return to the game reserve end up getting ill and succumbing to diseases; this apparently leads to clashes over where the dead should be buried.
The council insists that corpses of the deceased should be buried outside the CKGR while Basarwa insist on burying their relatives in their ancestral home.
One such high profile incident of this conundrum involved activist Roy Sesana after his close friend Kanyo Kaingotla died within CKGR. The council blocked his burial on the basis that he was one of those who voluntarily relocated in 2007 and was compensated and thus could not be buried inside the reserve. It was then argued by Basarwa that Kaingotla was born in the CKGR and that he must be buried there. The council eventually gave in and allowed the burial.
This matter was referred to OP and the ministry. However, the president’s private Secretary, Brigadier George Tlhalerwa said he could not confirm this as he was outside out of the office.“It may be a matter directed to the administration and not directly to the president’s private office,” he said in a brief interview.
Sesana recently met Khama at the OP to report back on the progress regarding issues in the CKGR and regarding the Community Trust initiatives designed to empower communities living both in and adjacent to the game reserve. The president has been instrumental in the implementation of the agreed terms between government and Basarwa, and this is seen as his effort to close out external influences in the decades-long Basarwa, government dispute.