Socialist Worker

Bushmen's rights ignored by mining company in Botswana

Issue No. 1945

The notice announcing that diamond prospecting will begin on the Bushmen’s land (Pic: Robert Hanbury-Tennison/Survival)

The notice announcing that diamond prospecting will begin on the Bushmen’s land (Pic: Robert Hanbury-Tennison/Survival)


The Gana and Gwi Bushmen have launched an appeal against attacks by the government of Botswana in southern Africa, and the mining corporations.

Three years ago the government attempted to drive the Bushmen from the Kalahari game reserve — smashing their water boreholes and then banning them from bringing water supplies into the reserve.

Water levels have also fallen as boreholes are sunk for cattle ranching in the surrounding area. One Bushman told Survival International, “We can only get water when it rains and ponds form. When it doesn’t rain it’s a problem.

“If there’s no rain we will just die because even the underground roots become dry.”

The Bushmen are also facing up to threats from the world’s biggest mining corporation, BHP Billiton, which includes a top Labour peer, Lord Renwick, on its board of directors.

The company’s Botswanan subsidiary has been exploring the reserve without asking for the consent of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen.

The exploration is being funded by the International Finance Corporation — part of the World Bank group. The Bushmen have pointed out that the surveys violate the World Bank’s policy on indigenous people.

After the Bushmen wrote to complain in November 2004, the mining company responded by putting up signs explaining that low flying planes would be surveying for diamonds.

The signs are in English and Setswana — none of the Bushmen in the reserve read either of these languages.

For more information go to www.survival-international.org


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Article information

International
Sat 2 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1945
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