Republic of Botswana (28/11/05)
TAUTONA TIMES no 42 of 2005
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"The Government and people of the Republic of Botswana are very grateful for the assistance that the People's Republic of China has availed us. We are particularly grateful for this assistance given the fact that China is also a developing country that faces similar challenges to ours." - H.E. the President [D 1]
B. November - December Press Schedule
C. The Week That Was
D. Statements by H.E. the President at the:
1) Opening of Official Talks with Chinese Vice Premier (20/11/05).
2) Cheque handover to Masiela Trust by Gaborone City Council and Community members (23/11/05).
3) Handing over of a house to the needy, built by the students and staff Rutwang CJSS in Tonota, with the further assistance of additional members of the community (26/11/05).
E. OP Press Office Notices:
1) 23/11/05: Project Coordinator for countrywide Transmitter Network appointed
2) 23/11/05: "Public International Law Policy Group" withdraws?
3) 28/11/05: Today's Monitor Report on CKGR incorrect
4) Additional notices and forwarding
F. Other Voices on the CKGR
1) 25/11/05: Statement by Botswana Council of NGOs (BOCONGO)
2) 25/11/05: "Foreigners should show humility in the affairs of other countries" Beata Kasale, The Voice.
3) 27/11/05: "Survival International have lost their senses" Letter to the Editor of the Sunday Standard
Welcome to this week's addition, whose transmission has been delayed due to a temporary problem with our local internet exchange server.
Facing Mount Kenya
Botswana is certainly not alone among the countries of this continent that is being targeted by outsiders claiming to speak on behalf of "first peoples". Elsewhere some of the same groupings are also pushing their neo-Apartheid agenda by dusting off old colonial era myths that some Africans are somehow more indigenous than others living together in the mother continent.
Reproduced below, for example, is the latest outpouring from the Survival International's partner organisation Ecoterra International as part of a campaign being promoted by both UK based organisations in Kenya.
[From Ecoterra International (UK): "The Ogiek, the Watha, the Aweer, the Dahalo and the Yaku are besides some smaller aboriginal hunter-gatherer communities and the more or less extinct Jumbo People the original inhabitants of the land, which is today known as the multi-nation state of Kenya. While the Bantu and Nilotic speaking peoples, who form today's majority tribes, only arrived over time in the lands of this country, the aboriginal people were oppressed and deprived of their rights by the invading tribes, the European colonialists and subsequently the neo-colonial governments as well as today's multi-national corporations, who rule into the internal affairs of these peoples and withhold from them not only any form of self-governance and self-determination but do not allow even their equal stand as citizens of Kenya. This is now the time when finally justice must be done to the first peoples of Kenya...."
One can only wonder how the late great Jomo Kenyatta (or for that matter any surviving Mau Mau freedom fighter) would react if he were still alive only to be told by some European that he, along with most other Kenyans, was not "aboriginal" to the land he helped liberate?
As it was it was Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who spoke of the need to reach beyond colonial conceptions in seeking to understand what was authentic about African identity, further warning of the need
"...to weigh sincerity against dialectic, wisdom against polemic, effective policy against glib theory, integrity against betrayal, truth against lies".
It was also Mzee who wrote, in his 1938 classic Facing Mount Kenya, that:
"When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land, and the missionaries had the Bible; they taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible."
This coming week Kenya celebrates its 42nd anniversary of independence. To our brothers and sisters Harambee!
Did you know?
One of the pillars of our nation's progress over the past four decades has been the legally embedded principal that the natural resources and heritage of this country must exists for the common benefit of all citizens. In accordance with this fundamental principal since the early years of the Republic it has been well understood by Batswana that all mineral wealth within our borders is the common property of the state. Any mineral exploitation by private companies in Botswana is thus subject to there obtaining some form of lease agreement from the state.
In the context of our country's main export earner, diamonds, all currently existing mining operations in the country are thus being carried out by the Debswana Diamond Company (Pty) Ltd., which is a joint venture between the state and the DeBeers mining company. The terms governing lease agreements to the same mines ensure that most of the revenue earned from the mines accrues to the state for the public good.
Let's Vote for Robi
Our own Miss Botswana, Ms. Tshegofatso Robi, has gone to Sanya, China, to represent us in this year's Miss World contest. The pageant, whose finals this coming month, is expected to attract a record international television audience. The London bookies place Ms. Robi's chances as 1-100, which is the sort of odds our contestants are used to overcoming. This time, however, we can all help even the odds by voting for Robi by SMS. In Botswana send her contest I.D., which is MW 602, to number 14900 (Mascom & Orange). Elsewhere reader may wish to check if there is also voting on your local cell phone network.
- Dr. Jeff Ramsay, Press Secretary to the President (28/11/05)
Contacts: Office Telephone: (267) 3975154 & Facsimile: (267) 3902795.
Cell: (267) 71318598. E-mail: email@example.com.
B. November - December Press Schedule:
As always the events listed below, which represent only those parts of H.E. the President's schedule open in whole or part to press coverage, are subject to change. When possible and necessary, updates will be forwarded. Members of the Press are also encouraged to contact the sponsors of the various events listed below for further programme details and possible updates.
Monday (28/11/05): H.E. the President's morning schedule will include farewell calls on the part of the outgoing High Commissioner of India, at 11:00 am, and Head of the European union Mission, at noon, both at the Office of the President.
Tuesday (29/11/05): At noon, at the Office of the President, H.E. the President will receive a cheque donated to the Masiela Trust Fund by Choppies SuperStores.
Wednesday (30/11/05): In the afternoon, at 16:00, H.E. the President will receive a courtesy call from the CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim company, Mr. Paul Stewart, at the Office of the President. This will be immediately followed by a second courtesy call by the new bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Southern Africa, the Rt. Rev. Johannes Malebogo Mashapa. In the evening, from 19:00, he will attend a dinner in honour of the President and CEO of the Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Peter G. Trebler, at the Phakalane Golf Estate.
Thursday (1/12/05): During the day, H.E. the President will be the guest of honour at the World AIDS Day observance in Letlakane.
Friday (2/12/05): During the afternoon, at 15:00, His Excellency the President will receive a donation from the Kabelano Trust Fund for a charity of his choice, at the Office of the President.
Thursday (8/12/05): During the day, H.E. the President will be in Bobonong to open the Botswana Tribal Administration Service Association Conference. In the evening, from 19:30, he will hold a reception for invited members of the Botswana media fraternity at Boipuso Hall
Tuesday (13/11/05): In the morning H.E. the President will open a meeting of the SADC Parliamentary forum.
C. OP Press opportunities for the week ending 27/11/05:
Sunday (20/11/05): In the morning, H.E. the President met with Chinese Vice Premier, H.H. Mr. Haung Ju, at the Office of the President. A Tête-à-Tête between the leaders was followed by Official Talks and the signing of bilateral agreements [D 1]. In his remarks Vice Premier Haung Ju confirmed the extension of concessional loans to Botswana and further cooperation in the health sector. He also announced that China would follow up Botswana's request to be granted approved destination status to facilitate Chinese tourism in Botswana. He further thanked Botswana for its steadfast support of the one China principle. Both countries had occasion to further reaffirm their mutual support of the emerging African-Asian and South-South consensus for a fairer and more harmonious global political and economic order, which should be predicated on multilateralism and respect for the diversity and sovereign equality of all nations. During talks it was fondly noted that the Vice Premier's visit coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, which was soon followed by the historic 1976 visit of the late first President Seretse Khama to China, which resulted in the signing of a Cooperation Agreement that has ever since served as the foundation of harmonious relations between the two countries.
The Vice Premier's entourage included the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Qiao Zonghuai, the Vice Minister of Commerce, Mr. Yu Guangzhou, the Vice Minister of Health, Mr. Chen Xiaohong, officials, and a number of leading Chinese business executives, as well as representatives of major Chinese media. In the evening, H.E. the President and First Lady hosted a State Banquet in honour of the Vice Premier and his wife, Mrs. Yu Huiwen.
Wednesday (23/11/05): In the afternoon, H.E. the President received a cheque of P 500,000 for the Masiela Trust for orphan care from His Worship the Mayor of Gaborone, Mr. Nelson Ramaotwana, and Mr. Manhar Mooney of the TransAfrica Group. The money had been raised earlier in the year through a sponsored walk organised by the Gaborone City Council, which received widespread support from the wider local community [D 2].
Thursday (24/11/05): During the day, H.E. the President's schedule included interviews for the RB2 Youth and the BTV Boswa Programmes. In the afternoon he met with members of a Middle East Investment delegation.
Friday (25/11/05): In the morning, H.E. the President chaired a meeting of the National AIDS Council. In the evening he attended the BDF Concert in Maun.
Saturday (26/11/05): In the morning, H.E. the President toured and was briefed on the activities of BDF in various localities before proceeding to Tonota to be present for the handing over of a house to the needy that was build by the students and staff Rutwang CJSS with the further assistance of members of the local community [D 3].
D. STATEMENTS BY H.E. THE PRESIDENT:
D 1) Remarks by H.E. the President at the opening of bilateral Official Talks with the Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China, H.H. Mr. Huang Ju, Ministers and Officials
1. Let me once again welcome you and your delegation to Botswana. Our two countries enjoy excellent and cordial relations characterized by exchanges at all levels.
2. This year we celebrated 30 years of our diplomatic relations and took stock of our cooperation. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, in 1975, we have had fruitful collaboration in a wide number of areas including human resource development, agriculture, the development of infrastructure such as housing, hospitals and the rehabilitation of our railway. Botswana has also received interest free and concessional loans from the Government of China, which have, in no small measure, contributed to our development endeavours.
3. I am happy to note that during your visit, your government will once again be offering us an interest-free loan of RMB Yuan 30 million for the establishment of recreational parks and botanical gardens and a concessional loan of RMB Yuan 150 million for the construction of Phase 2 of the Letlhakeng-Kang Road. I am also informed that we will be signing an agreement to facilitate the secondment of Chinese medical staff comprising of 20 medical doctors, 21 nurses and 5 support staff.
4. The Government and people of the Republic of Botswana are very grateful for the assistance that the People's Republic of China has availed us. We are particularly grateful for this assistance given the fact that China is also a developing country that faces similar challenges to ours.
5. Please convey our gratitude to His Excellency Hu Jingtao, President of the People's Republic of China.
6. May I now invite you to say a few words in the presence of the press before we start our official discussions.
D 2) Remarks by H.E. the President at cheque handover ceremony by Gaborone City Council and Community members to Masiela Trust [for orphan care] (23/11/05)
Your Worship the Mayor, Mr. Nelson Ramaotwana, Mr. Manhar Mooney of the TransAfrica Group, Other members of the Business Community, Councillors of the Gaborone City Council, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
1. I thank you for inviting me to receive your donation towards the Masiela Trust Fund.
2. This contribution, I am informed was made by Councillors, the staff of the Gaborone City Council, the Business Community, business people in their individual capacity as well as some private individuals. I commend you all on behalf of the nation, and on my own behalf, for your generous contribution towards such a worthy cause.
3. The plight of orphaned and needy children, as well as other vulnerable citizens is our collective responsibility as a nation. A nation's civilisation is determined by, amongst others, its adherence to fundamental values such as compassion towards the less fortunate members of society. Your generous contribution is therefore a very welcome affirmation of our nation's value of compassion - bobelotlhomogi.
4. All of you, Councillors, staff of the City Council, the Business Community and private individuals have demonstrated that the well -being of our children is first and foremost, our obligation. Whilst our friends from outside can, and do give us the assistance we very much appreciate, it is ultimately our responsibility to help ourselves.
5. By making it part of their Business to care for the welfare of the citizens, the various companies that donated towards Masiela Trust Fund have demonstrated remarkable corporate responsibility. In particular I want to thank the following companies for their generosity and compassion: [Full List of donors read out by His Excellency]
6. On behalf of the nation and on my own behalf, I also thank His Worship the Mayor, Gaborone City Councillors, staff of the Council, Mr. Manhar Mooney and other individuals for your personal donations towards the worthy cause of helping our orphaned children.
7. It is our duty as politicians and leaders to occasionally set aside narrow political objectives and concern ourselves directly with the day to day lives of our fellow citizens. We therefore commend you for your outstanding initiative. I have no doubt that other Councils will emulate the good example you have set.
8. I am fully aware that the donations by Council staff represented a significant personal sacrifice on their part. Let me however assure all those outstanding individuals that their reward will be the deep satisfaction of knowing that they have made a lot of difference to the lives of many children. Our nation needs more citizens like them.
9. This brief ceremony is yet another confirmation that our Vision 2016 goal of building a Just, Compassionate and Caring society is attainable. Given the enormous challenge that the HIV/AIDS scourge has imposed on our society, partnership between civil society, political leaders and business is an absolute necessity. I am therefore very pleased that all of you have proved to the nation, the value of unity in responding to our national challenges.
10. Whilst in our traditional society no child was referred to as an orphan because the whole society was a parent to that child, the HIV/AIDS scourge has over-whelmed even our most outstanding practices. It is therefore compelling that we find other ways of meeting the enormous challenge of looking after all our disadvantaged children. The generous donation, which is the outcome of cooperation between the Council, business and individuals is an excellent example in that regard.
11. Once again let me reiterate our deepest gratitude to all of you for your generous donation towards a highly deserving cause. I thank you all.
D 3) Remarks by H.E. the President at a ceremony for the handing over of a house to the needy, which was built by the students and staff Rutwang CJSS in Tonota, with the further assistance of additional members of the local community (26/11/05).
Honourable Member of Parliament for Tonota South, Mr. Pono Moatlhodi, District Officer, Kgosi Ramosinyi Radipitse le Magosi otlhe a a hano, Assistant Council Secretary, Honourable Councillors
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
1. The Head of Rutwang School, Mr. Mbaakanyi, your fellow teachers and pupils, I am very pleased that you have invited me to hand over this house your school has built for the Tsotsokae family. I am informed that the family had the misfortune of losing their home during the floods in 2002.
2. When I addressed the nation on the occasion of our 39th Anniversary of Independence in September this year, I expressed gratitude to those Batswana who contribute positively towards the realization of our national aspirations and efforts. Through your commendable initiative, you have set a good example to those who think that improvement of the lives of other Batswana is the obligation solely of the Government.
3. Whilst it is true that Government has to play a significant role in alleviating poverty, it is equally true that without the support of the population at large, poverty alleviation will remain a distant and unattainable dream. Each one of us needs to play a part if we are to succeed. The wonderful lesson your school has set is therefore a challenge to us all to regard the well - being of our fellow citizens as our own business.
4. I am particularly pleased that you involved your pupils in this commendable project. By so doing you have realized yet another equally commendable objective of ensuring that you cultivate in our children, the spirit of compassion that has sustained our people through successive generations. Batswana would not have made it over the years of extreme poverty our country had to endure, had it not been for our tradition of being caring and compassionate.
5. Let me take this opportunity to recognize the contributions made by the various stakeholders like Kgosi Ramosinyi Radipitse who laid the first brick on behalf of the community of Tonota, representatives of Government Departments, parents, teachers, students, donors, WBHO Contractors and the Botswana National Productivity Centre. To the parents of students of Rutwang CJSS, your children would not have made it had it not been for your committed support. I am reliably informed that some of you contributed your labour free of charge. My final recognition goes to the students of Shashe Brigade and their instructors who provided the technical expertise and those who built the project.
6. At this juncture, I wish to advise the family to take good care of the house so that it could benefit even their grand children. It is not for sale. Please look after it well. Also note and consider yourselves among the luckiest people to live amongst such wonderful people as the Tonota community.
7. Compassion towards the less fortunate members of society has always been an inseparable part of our cultural heritage. Let me therefore remind the nation that our National Vision 2016 goal of building A Just, Compassionate and Caring nation is not a Government program but a challenge to all Batswana to revive our spirit of compassion towards the less fortunate members of society. If we do so, I have no doubt that we shall make a positive difference to the lives of our fellow citizens.
8. Many of us are privileged to have been brought up in families that readily shared food with strangers, gave emotional support to one another and regarded individualism as anti- social and selfish. Our cultural practices such as Mafisa, Letsema and many others, were a practical demonstration of our deeply cherished values of community spirit, compassion and self- reliance. I therefore appeal to all Batswana to revive these outstanding attributes that have been an integral part of our society since time immemorial.
9. It is a source of pride to us all that contrary to the current tendency towards excessive reliance on Government, Rutwang school community has demonstrated that some of our fellow citizens still possess the attributes that have seen our people through the toughest of times. Please join me in applauding these model citizens.
10. I wish to take this opportunity to remind the nation that if we demonstrated the same spirit of compassion like Rutwang School, in respect of other national challenges, most of our efforts would be crowned with success. In this regard I wish to mention one of the national challenges that require our collective effort as a nation. I am referring here to the issue of partial contribution towards the education of our children.
11. In my address to the nation on the occasion of the opening of our Parliament, I assured the nation that no child will be prevented from attending school on account of the parents' poverty. However, we need to be realistic. Although we have in our country, fellow citizens who can not afford to raise P25 per month towards the education of their children, a great many of Batswana can easily afford to do so.
12. Let me once again explain the government's decision regarding partial recovery of school fees:
* Primary education will continue to be provided free of charge to the parents; in other words at 100% cost to the government
* The proposed contribution for post primary is only 5% or P5-00 in a P100.
* At Junior Secondary School level, the cost per student per annum is P6,000. Beneficiaries/parents contribute only P300.
* At Senior Secondary School level, the cost per student per annum is P9,000. Beneficiaries/parents contribute only P450.
* At Technical College level, the cost per student per annum is P15 000. Beneficiaries/parents contribute only P750.
13. If we are to continue to educate all our children, treat our fellow citizens against HIV/AIDS; implement poverty alleviation and other national programs, we will need to require those citizens with the means to do so, to make a contribution. By so doing, those parents would enable the Government to continue to educate every child, in particular those children whose parents are less fortunate than themselves.
14. Bagaetsho, let us accept that in every country, rich or poor, the payment of a child's school fees is its parents' full responsibility. We should therefore count ourselves fortunate that we are only being required to pay a small portion of what it costs to educate a child.
15. It is regrettable that the issue of partial recovery of school fees has been politicized by those who seek to score cheap political points at the expense of our nation. The plain fact is that in Botswana every one citizen out of three has a cellular phone. We also have one of the highest vehicle ownership ratios in Africa. We should, therefore, be able to make some modest contribution to the education of our beloved children.
16. A good number of Batswana can therefore afford to pay P25 per month towards the education of their children. By so doing, such parents would be demonstrating compassion towards those of their fellow citizens who are less fortunate than themselves.
17. As I reminded the nation on the occasion of my address to Parliament this year, Botswana is a developing country located within a marginalized continent. Like every developing country, our resources are limited. We have however consistently devoted a substantial portion of our budget towards education. That has been regardless of other competing obligations such as citizen empowerment, infrastructure development and the relief of our citizens against droughts, to name but a few.
18. Under the circumstances I have just outlined, we obviously have to require some of our citizens to make a token financial contribution towards their children's education. I however wish to assure you, Mr. Principal that no pupil of your school, or any other school for that matter, will be sent away if the parents genuinely can not afford to pay any part of the fees.
19. I am once again appealing to the nation to accept that, for the sake of our children, some parents should set aside a portion of their resources towards performing the parental obligation of educating their children.
20. In conclusion let me once again commend Rutwang School and the Tonota community for their humanitarian gesture towards their fellow human being. The house I am about to hand over is a concrete example of our ability to re- kindle the spirit we all have within us as a just, compassionate and caring people. Please keep up your good work. I thank you all.
E OP PRESS OFFICE NOTICES & FORWARDING
E 1) 23/11/05: Mr. Habuji Sosome appointed project coordinator for countrywide Transmitter Network
The Acting Permanent Secretary to the President Mrs. Segakweng Tsiane has announced the appointment of Mr. Habuji Sosome as Project Coordinator for the countrywide Transmitter Network that entails the expansion of the National Radio and Television Terrestrial network to be effected during National Development Plan 9.
Mr. Sosome who is currently Director of Broadcasting Services will retire from the Public Service to undertake the assignment under a Master Plan of the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology which seeks to build 31 additional transmitter stations around the country to ensure availability and improvement of radio and television signals nationwide.
Mr. Sosome's assignment is with effect from the 1st of January 2006. At the end of the project by March 2009, about 98 per cent of Batswana will be able to receive good quality signals for both Radio Botswana and Botswana Television. The appointment of a Project Coordinator for the Transmitter network signifies the intention of the Government to ensure that every Motswana has access to all developments, including access to radio and television signals.
As Director of the Department of Broadcasting Services and as former Chief Engineer for the Department, Mr. Sosome has been involved in radio and television transmitter expansion programmes throughout the country, as well as the development of the new National Television- BTV.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology Mrs. Pelonomi Venson will be launching three Transmitter stations comprising two FM radio and one television transmitter per station in Mabutsane, Kang and Charleshill respectively. The new transmitters have been constructed by the Department of Broadcasting Services.
E 2) 23/11/05: CKGR follow-up briefing note - So-called "Independent Investigative Team" allegedly associated with "Public International Law Policy Group" withdraws?
Further to yesterday's background briefing for interested member of the media, this is to inform local media stakeholders that the so-called "Independent Investigative Team", which has been heretofore associated itself the "Public International Law & Policy Group" (PILPG) in Washington D.C. and the U.S. based First Nations Development Institute is apparently no longer coming to Botswana. This development follows an exchange of e-mail correspondence between Government and an identified team member as well further communications between Government and the Director of the First Nations Development Institute.
The withdraw of the team also follows local exposure of documented allegations of recruitment of team members by the S.I. partner organization Indigenous Land Rights Fund to look for evidence of "Cultural Genocide", supposedly in order to bring a case against Botswana before the I.C.C.
It is not at this time clear if above agenda has ever been sanctioned by PILPG Directors. In this respect we can re-confirm that there has still been no formal contact between PILPG Directors and the Government of Botswana.
Informed rumour suggests that First Nations Development Institute and other key associates may now wish to disassociate themselves from the Team.
First Nations Development Institute Director, Ms. Rebecca Adamson, is currently in Botswana, has made contact with Government.
[NB: Government spokespersons were subsequently able to confirm, also on 23/11/05 and thereafter, to interested media, including Mmegi, that the Director of the First Nations Development Institute had met with Government representatives and stated that her organisation no longer wished to be associated in anyway with the so-called PILPG/Independent Investigative Team. Press were further advised to contact First Nations representatives directly for further confirmation and details]
E 3) 28/11/05: Today's Monitor Report on CKGR incorrect
This Office views with concern this morning's (28/11/05) front page article in the Monitor newspaper entitled "Mogae Appoints CKGR mediators" in which it is further incorrectly reported that "President Festus Mogae has invited First People's Worldwide (FPWW) to facilitate negotiations between government and Basarwa over the relocation from the Central Kalahari [sic] Game Reserve."
Neither First People's Worldwide, which is the international outreach division of the US based organization known as First Nations Development Institute (FNDI), nor its (and FNDI) Director Rebecca Adamson, has been given any such mandate from either His Excellency the President or any other member of this Government.
Further to the above at no time was this Office contacted by the Monitor to confirm the veracity of the above report, as one would have expected from any newspaper claiming to adhere to the minimum good practice requirements for accuracy in reporting as contained in the Code of Ethics of the Press Council of Botswana.
We find today's misleading Monitor report, along with the also misleading front page article entitled "CKGR campaigners catch govt off-guard" in last Thursday's (24/11/05) edition of Mmegi most disappointed insofar as both on Tuesday and Thursday last week this Office joined other official stakeholders in giving detailed background briefs to the Press, including Mmegi.
E 4) Additional notices and forwarding for the week ending 27/11/05:
* 21/11/05: Saudi Investor Group to meet w/ H.E. the President Wednesday at 15:00
* 22/11/05 FW: Cheque handover by the Mayor now at Fairgrounds Mall
* 22/11/05: CKGR Media Background Briefing today
* 23/11/05 Moved: Saudi Investor Group to meet now meet w/ H.E. the President on Thursday.
* 23/11/05: Xinhua - "China to triple trade volume with Africa, double investment."
* 23/11/05: OP Editors meeting tomorrow - CKGR follow-up & other issues.
* 24/11/05: "Flotation options probed at Botswana copper project"
* 24/11/05: "Miss World Odds Released"
F. Other Voices on the CKGR
The past week has witnessed an upsurge in Botswana domestic media coverage of external groups claiming the champion the right of communities living in the Central Kgalagadi region. Below is a sample. The views expressed are not necessarily shared by this Office or Government:
F1) 25/11/05: Statement by Botswana Council of NGOs (BOCONGO) on the CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE ISSUE
This is BOCONGO's response to the statement by Stephen Corry of Survival International that appeared in the Botswana Sunday Standard of November 20th captioned "Botswana's Angry Lion".
In the above quoted article Steven Corry attacks the integrity and commitment of Alice Mogwe of Ditshwanelo and Bram Le Roux of Kuru and their organisations to the fight for human rights in Botswana. The main thrust of the article seems to be to drive a wedge between the Basarwa and the local NGOs and at the same time portray Survival International as the only organisation that can represent the interests of Basarwa in Botswana. Steven Corry wants to portray Survival International as the only organisation with better and effective methods of lobbying.
BOCONGO wishes to differ with Survival International on both its assertions and its methods. Ditshwanelo has been in the forefront of the issue of Basarwa not only of the CKGR but that also of other Basarwa living in other parts of Botswana and other poor and marginalised Batswana for a long time. Ditshwanelo has distinguished itself in the many meetings and the fora it has organised to lobby for a solution to the issue of Basarwa. BOCONGO is fully aware of the development work that Kuru Family of Organisations is doing for the Basarwa communities in Gantsi and Ngamiland areas.
BOCONGO and other civil society organisations in Botswana differ with SI in that SI believes that the end justifies the means. Stephen Corry and SI are of extremely suspect credibility because often they are not particularly bothered about the accuracy and the truthfulness of what they say. One of the main issues that their campaign has been anchored on is the argument of blood diamonds. They have constantly used the argument that diamonds are at the heart of the relocation of the San. In a seminar organised by BOCONGO in 2004, when asked for evidence that linked the relocation with diamonds, Stephen Corry said diamonds are the only probable cause of relocation words to that effect.
BOCONGO believes strongly that the issue of methods or the lack of employed by SI is important. It is true that the involvement of SI has hardened attitudes of government and thereby hinders progress for Basarwa. In any such struggle for Human Rights it's important to adopt methods and measures that will not alienate the rest of the population from the Basarwa. Adopting methods that are reminiscent of terrorism will not help the case of the Basarwa. This only helps to polarise opinions and harden attitudes. As BOCONGO we question Corry's professionalism. He recklessly uses untruthful information and tramples over the dignity of individuals, our local NGOs and our country. We know that our diamonds are for development of Batswana including Basarwa.
BOCONGO and a lot of participants of a workshop held in March 2004 were surprised that Corry, in response to a direct question, could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Botswana diamonds are blood diamond, the primary basis for his campaign against our government. He claims that SI is a Human Rights based organisation with the interest of the Basarwa at heart, but this organisation keeps making things harder and harder for Basarwa in Botswana. His tactics are questionable as he employs personal attacks against the very NGOs who have been fighting for the rights of Basarwa.
BOCONGO together with other local NGOs have been calling for negotiations between the government and the Basarwa as the only viable and long lasting solution to the issue. We believe that local NGOs are much better placed to deal with the problem rather than international NGOs being at the forefront as this makes the government want to close ranks and view international NGO's with suspicion that they are pursuing a hidden foreign agenda.
Survival International definitely does not make the situation any better but it rather inflames the situation. We are therefore saying "Steven Corry, we do not need you, more so you are not helping the situation but worsening it".
BOCONGO believes that the process of negotiation is valuable in itself in that along the way the various parties come to appreciate other salient features of the issues under discussion. In this way negotiation can bring about a more lasting solution. We request SI to step out, and let Basarwa, local NGOs, and Government re-open negotiations.
F2) 25/11/05: "Foreigners should show humility in the affairs of other countries." Beata Kasale in The Voice [online at www.thevoicebw.com/ghetto.php ]
We are dancing with joy because it is evident that before long the Basarwa and the government will sit at the negotiating table. It is inevitable.
Our inks are dry and our keyboards are sticky from pleading with the Government to do something about the Central Kalahari Game Reserve issue.
When the President's man Dr Jeff Ramsay confirmed that they were meeting some members from the international community we were relieved. Although we would have jumped for joy if they were meeting with Roy Sesana. Said Ramsay: "We are prepared to let people work with us on this issue as long as it does not jeopardise the ongoing court case." Well this is a beginning.
We know for a fact that Roy Sesana is ready to negotiate. Even Survival International (SI) Director Stephen Corry in a long article where he blasted Ditshwanelo and the Kuru Development Trust, accusing them of being 'useless' admitted that if the government and the Basarwa reached an amicable agreement, they (SI) would back out.
As a matter of fact, we are against foreigners or the international community to be politically correct interfering with our affairs. But we are aware that dabbling with the international community can be dangerous if we are to look at what happened to the Iraqis in 2003.
Their country is in shambles and those who started the war and ousted the Iraqi 'tyrant' ruler are looking for another place to destabilise while the Iraqi's are left holding to a bomb shelled city.
Our beautiful country has its problems, poverty, HIV/AIDS, marginalised communities, a decayed moral fibre among others. But we are the only ones who can solve these problems since we know what they are and if we set out to find solutions. The Basarwa issue is a priority. I hate to see what will happen if something strategic is not done now. The campaigns of Stephen Corry and SI are going to look like a joke if the Americans with their fat purses get involved. And they are getting dragged in.
Some members of the international community are genuinely concerned about the impoverished and destitute state of the Basarwa. And we are too. But this is for our country to resolve and we believe that something can be done about it.
On Wednesday our blood ran cold when we heard that a group of foreigners were coming into the country to investigate the Basarwa issue. We got cynical and suspicious following the recent demonstration which occurred in New Xade resulting in the unfortunate incident where people were shot and children and women jailed.
However, we met Rebecca Adamson, a part Eastern Cherokee of the Deer Clan (Native American), who is the President and founder of the First Nations Development Institute and Peter Poole from the Local Earth Observation.
Adamson who was among the rich Americans who were in the Kalahari around the time of the shootings said she was disgusted that some foreigners incited the Basarwa to demonstrate.
She also revealed that the invited guests wanted to help the Basarwa and were not aware of the demonstration.
Adamson confirmed that US$ dollars changed hands as contributions from the Americans. The question is, did the money end up in the hands of the Basarwa? We doubt.
Adamson raised her fears that if Basarwa continued to be marginalised they would lose their way and culture. This always ends up in alcoholism, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS. It doesn't have to be that way. Marginalisation creates a class of poor people and this affects everybody.
"Our mission is to facilitate a dialogue and through that dialogue, empower the San people, local and community leaders, all stakeholders and the government. All these stakeholders should come together and find their own way out of all this. Botswana is an incredible country which should live up to its reputation of being a model of democracy," advised Adamson.
But how does your coming here help, she was asked. "Our organisation First People Worldwide gives support for marginalised groups from different cultures and values to become self sustainable and empowered. "We believe that culture is a cornerstone for how people can become self empowered. Your culture is your identity."
But we also believe that it is essential for a nation to solve their own issues which is why we hope the government will agree to a dialogue with the Basarwa to solve this problem before it gets out of control." she answered.
Poole was worried about what he termed as exaggeration about issues in the CKGR. "We have heard rumours that the Basarwa are being surrounded by armed personnel. We have heard of genocide and ethnic cleansing. .
"In such issues transparency is essential. We understand that the CKGR is currently in quarantine but we hope that they will allow us to go into the CKGR and speak to the people and see for ourselves that these rumours are not true.
"So far we have been well received and spoke to the office of the President. We met the President and we have a desire to have a real transparent process." he said.
On being asked whether foreigners were aware that by tarnishing Botswana's image they were further marginalising the Basarwa, Poole commented: "Foreigners should show humility in the affairs of other countries.
"The answer to the San issue lies with the people and their government. They are the only ones who can carve the way forward. " concluded Poole.
This is true. We don't want foreigners poking their long noses into our business. If they want to help the Basarwa they should go to the settlements and empower them instead of raising money on their behalf which they (the Basarwa) never see. We are sick and tired of foreigners thinking they know what is good for us and what is not.
F3) 27/11/05: "Survival international have lost their senses" Letter to the Editor in the Sunday Standard:
I was naturally interested in Stephen Corry's eight column letter in the Sunday Standard. Also interesting was the front page report referring to The Public International Law and Policy Group together with the International Funders for Indigenous People. It is good that there are people with the power of education, professional training and wealth to want to do good for nothing. (Pro Bono).
I am intrigued by Stephen's throw away line that Braam Lennox of the Kuru organization thought that the First People of the Kalahari are exaggerating. "I wonder how he knows, has he been there to see?" Good one Steve, good one. The question now is have the numerous foreign contributors to your campaign been there to see? I don't mean a quick visit with a couple of photographers to take sentimental pictures of old people "benevolent savages" (Your quote. Ed.). I mean live there for a lifetime, or if I am generous, a quarter of a lifetime, say fifteen years.
How do Survival International, The Public International Law and Policy Group, the International Funders for Indigenous People, Prince Charles, (my future king!), the Deli, sorry Dalai Lama, and Julie Christy and all the others know. Have they been there?
I know that Stephen was in the Central Kalahari for a week or so. Obviously the photographer of Granny Basarwa was there on professional business (or the photo is a lie). My dear and future king Charlie was there with Laurens van der Post. The others will go for a week or so and profess their opinions. My point is the matter is no longer about the Basarwa. It is that there are people with the power of education, professional training and wealth who can afford to do good for nothing. But that, of course, is because they have education, professional training and power.
A good C.V. carries a bit if pro bono, doing good for kindness sake. But doing good for kindness sake can kill. Those native English speakers know that "Too much kindness can kill". In this it is the givers that get the credit and the receivers that suffer. The Basarwa will never get a good education, a good command English, the language that all I have referred to including the Sunday Standard uses. The Basarwa will remain 'Noble Savages', hunting and gathering according to there ancient and noble culture. Dear Stephen and friends, throw away your education, your training, your lifestyle and go back to European Dark Ages. (There is a good example of life a thousand years ago in an underground museum in York, UK). Go and look there Stephen and friends if you can not manage fifteen years in the Central Kalahari.
As part of your experiential training to help the Basarwa you will need contact with the larger group of people that live in Botswana, the Batswana. A deep understanding of the surrounding people and their culture is essential to prepare a relevant development plan for the Basarwa, who with all your education training and money you want to help. I am sorry to remind you that to understand and to advise, a quick visit, a contractual three years perhaps, is not enough.
There is a side issue of who 'owns' the Central Kalahari and who can have the diamonds, (or oil, or gas, or coal, or gold or any other resource found there). It is a bit silly. In our country, yours and mine Stephen, the UK, a lot of oil was found under the North Sea. I don't think anybody suggested the truly ancient trawler fishermen of England (and Scotland) should have a preferential concession to the economic benefit of the oil. This is even though they, the trawler men, had fished there since the days of the Viking invasion of Britain. Also the coal under the ground in North Nottinghamshire belongs (somewhat indirectly) to the British people collectively, not to the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Any mineral wealth anywhere in Botswana belongs, again somewhat indirectly, to all the people of Botswana, the Hereros, the Basarwa, the foreigners who become citizens, the illegitimate children born here, the foundlings and truly poor. The Government, for all its faults, is recognized as exemplary as compared with most countries in the world.
The basic issue to me, Stephen, a recent arriver in Botswana in 1986, is the awful hypocrisy of your campaign and the ignorance of its supporters. The easy use of my language, English, to reduce the development of the Basarwa of Botswana to a sentimental populism. A point driven by half truths and lies by you and your associates. Go and help the Travellers (the Gypsies) in Britain if the matter of gentle persuasion and kind understanding is all that it makes to make people feel at home, comfortable, and able to participate in the life and times of their home country.
I have been to the Central Kalahari six times. I remain ignorant of the deeper personal, family lifestyle, social, cultural, economic, developmental, national and international hopes of the Basarwa as an indigenous minority peoples. I have spoken to Basarwa in the Central Kalahari and in towns and villages elsewhere in Botswana. I have never met a Basarwa who wanted to follow a 'traditional' way of life in the Central Kalahari. So far as I could discover the Basarwa want food, water, homes, schools, clinics, transport, communication systems and to educate their children. The Government of Botswana, for all its faults, also wants this for all it's citizens.
Not surprisingly SI does not want the Basarwa to have these things. For SI the Basarwa are a fundraising campaign. A sentimental milch cow with simple popular advocacy and crude ideology. It gives the few a good living. It does a lot of harm for the Basarwa. Yours faithfully, Philip Tempest, Gaborone, Botswana
Notes: 1) Tautona Times; 2) Back issues and copies of speeches available; 3) Sources of Information on the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve
1) Tautona Times was launched in 2003 as a means to communicate scheduling and additional matters to the media and other interested stakeholders. It now has a direct global e-circulation of several thousand and is freely available to any who wish to receive it. But, we have no wish to spam. Requests for cancellation will be promptly acted on, as will any complaints about such things as double mailings.
2) Those seeking online information on the settlement of Botswana citizen outside of the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) can browse www.gov.bw/basarwa/index.html. For further information one can also contact the Director of the Public Relations, Research and Information Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Cliff Maribe, at Tel: (267) 3600763 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.