- Council Secretary writes to Minister on the resolutions
Gantsi District Council (GDC)has resolved that the controversial Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) has to be demarcated into two. One portion of the reserve for people and another for wildlife. The GDC has tasked the Council Secretary to engage the Minister, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi to take the matter up with Cabinet.
The decision follows the Council’s “go and see mission” at the reserve on the impact on the community impact due to the human-wildlife conflict. Last-week the Council held a special full Council meeting where the findings were discussed and at the top of the list was the continued human-wildlife conflict and the involvement of the wildlife personnel who continue to clash with the Basarwa for allegedly bringing disharmony into a wildlife management area.
The Council resolved that the CKGR has to be demarcated into two in order to avoid the negative impact arising from human-wildlife coexistence. The reserve currently has a population of about 800 inhabitants.
Gantsi District Council Chairperson, Galetlhaole Sixpence confirmed the resolutions to this publication but indicated that they are yet to be discussed and cleared with the parent Ministry.
“The wildlife personnel say it’s a challenge managing people in an area such as this because they are not trained to deal with people and situations like this hence perpetual confrontations and our conviction is that a move such as this will relieve all of their stresses,” said CKGR councillor, Bashi Thiite adding that while a lot has been achieved through government intervention, there are still areas of concern that have not been addressed.
The GDC wants the Ministry to declare the CKGR inhabitants’ stay in the park as legitimate to stop or minimize constant confrontations between them and those who claim to be enforcing the law.
The Council hopes that the decision will be discussed at Cabinet level and indicate that they belief its implementation will be easy as the same was previously done with the extension of the reserve during the establishment of Khutse Kalahari Lodge, which is situated at the eastern gate of the Khutse Game Reserve and is the final frontier before one enters CKGR.
The council has also resolved to request Minister Venson Moitoi to attend the Gantsi District Council to discuss the matter and other related matters. An instruction has been given to the Council Secretary to write a letter to the Ministry on this request.
Basarwa currently continue to live on their ancestral land despite government endeavours to remove them, burying their dead within the confines park.
At the time when the government sought to forcefully remove Basarwa from of the park, the State argued that the restriction of people on the land is intended to preserve the wildlife and the ecosystems of the vast reserve. For some many years, Basarwa have been at odds with the government over their right to live inside the game park – and to continue their traditional lifestyle as hunter-gatherers. Government had denied Basarwa access to water in the reserve. Their boreholes were capped and they were banned from drilling more.
The Court of Appeal, in a 2011 judgment on the matter, described the plight of the Bushmen as a “harrowing story of human suffering and despair” and ruled that they be allowed access to water. The Court Order was ignored for 5 years until former President Ian Khama reintroduced the services in 2016 following a meeting with Basarwa activist, Roy Sesana.