(English) May 26, 2013
Botswana has denied plans to remove hundreds of Bushmen from their land to make way for a wildlife park.
Earlier this week, indigenous rights group Survival International claimed authorities were going to evict the community who have been based in the southern settlement of Ranyane for generations.
However, Botswana government spokesman Jeff Ramsay said the allegations from what he described as the “London based neo-Apartheid organisation” were false.
“The government of Botswana has no plans to remove those who wish stay at Ranyane,” Ramsay said in a statement.
The Bushmen, the indigenous people of southern Africa, live off the land, hunting and gathering, grow their own food, and have limited access to health care.
On Friday, Survival International raised concern over reports that local government officials would send trucks to evict hundreds of Bushmen fromthe area.
The Bushmen live on the site of a proposed wildlife park that lies between two of the country’s premier safari reserves, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
According to Survival International, Botswana’s nature-loving president, Ian Khama, sits on the board of the US organisation Conservation International that is implementing the wildlife corridor.
Ramsay said that most residents had in fact asked to be relocated.
He said authorities had had five meetings with the Ranyane Bushmen, who numbered just 182, according to 2011 electoral data.
Ramsay did not comment on plans for the wildlife park.
In the past years, Botswana has forcefully driven Bushmen from their land to make way for conservation parks, sparking international outrage.
Those who returned were denied access to water and threatened with prosecution.
Their population, said to be around 100,000, has been decimated by disease and hunger.