Basarwa threaten to boycott elections

Want Masisi to heed their land petitions


More than 200 Basarwa have written to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to demand compensation for their land in Boteti, failing which they will boycott this year’s general elections.
The Botswana Gazette can reveal that a letter dated 2 September 2019 was addressed directly to the President’s office. The disgruntled Basarwa conveyed their demands through the Botswana Khweedom Council.

The letter reads in part: “As per kgotla meetings held in their places we agreed that if lands for both residing and ploughing fields are not allocated to them before this year’s general elections (October 2019) all the Bakhwe (indigenous) people in Letlhakane and surrounding places will not participate in the upcoming general elections as it is clear at this point and time that their interests are not considered at all. They are only used for elections and thereafter are not considered as people who can be helped to have better ways of living.”
Khweedom Council spokesperson, Banyatsi Salutu, told this publication their letter has not been replied to.

The Minister of Lands, Water and Sanitation, Kefentse Mzwinila, told Parliament in June 2018 that the number of BaSarwa squatters in the Boteti region, some whose families were a part of the groups displaced by government to make way for mining, exceeded 360 people.

Basarwa have threatened to drag government to court over this issue following several failed attempts at dialogue between government and Debswana.
The Khwee community requested a meeting with then President Ian Khama in January 2009 but were told that the President’s schedule was full for the whole year. Further attempts to engage Khama were rebuffed with the same response.