- Considering taking Botswana and Namibia to African Court
- Say they have studied how oil exploration damages nature
BaSarwa living in and around the Okavango Delta are preparing to object to Botswana’s oil exploration in the region and are ready to enlist the intervention of the international community the Botswana Khwedom Council, The Botswana Gazette has established.
Canadian oil company Reconnaissance Energy Africa (ReconAfrica) was awarded licences to explore for oil in a 13,200 square mile area between Namibia and Botswana last year. The area includes part of the vital watershed of the Okavango Delta, one of the largest inland deltas in the world.
“We recently held a workshop as members of indigenous people of southern Africa to discuss some of the issues that are affecting us,” said Banyatsi Salutu, who is the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Khwedom Council. “One of the main issues we discussed was the oil and gas exploration that is taking place in the Okavango Delta.
“We made a study on how the oil and gas exploration negatively affects and disturbs nature and we will yet again present it to the two governments. We even had experts who have benchmarked in Nigeria. The governments of Botswana and Namibia must abandon this process. It is not only going to affect nature but also the lives of those who live in and around the area.””
Salutu disclosed that they have lobbied for intervention from several members of international human rights and conversation communities. “We want this issue to reach all international media houses,” he said. “Western countries must help us stop this process from taking place. Survival International is already one of those on board on this matter.””
He noted that should they fail to prevail over the two governments, they will consider taking the legal route. “If they fail to hear our plea, we will be left with no option but to take this matter to the African Court,” he said.”
The African Court on Human and Peoples Rights is a continental court established by African countries to ensure protection of human and people’s rights in Africa. It complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
Meanwhile, tribal chiefs of villages around the Okavango Delta have also objected to oil and gas exploration there, saying the process will affect their livelihoods negatively.
People around the Okavango Delta make a living mainly from farming, fishing and tourism.