Survival intensifies their fight against the Botswana Company
Botswana’s thorn in the flash, Survival International, has taken its fight against Wilderness Safaris to the international forum. The London-base advocacy organisation has asked the World Travel and Tourism Council to withdraw the award nomination of the company “over Bushman issue.”
In a press release on Tuesday, Survival International noted that Wilderness Safaris had been nominated for the Council’s annual Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, to be announced on the 26th May, in the ‘Global Tourism Business’ category, which recognizes ‘best practices in sustainable tourism’.
“However, in 2009 the tourism company built a safari lodge on the ancestral land of the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, without consulting the Bushmen or obtaining their consent,” read the Survival statement, adding that the “The lodge, sporting a bar and swimming pool for tourists, is situated on the ancestral territory of the Bushmen who are being deprived of water by the Botswana government.”
The statement quotes a well-known human right activist, Jumanda Gakelebone, having “told Survival (that) ‘there is nothing more painful than to see a swimming pool near us in the desert where people can swim while we ourselves don’t have any water’.”
Survival director, Stephen Corry, stated in the release that, “Awarding a tourism company which has shown no regard for the rights and welfare of indigenous people an accolade such as this is wholly inappropriate. The WTTC needs to withdraw Wilderness Safaris and send a clear message to the tourism industry that the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights will not be tolerated.”
Survival noted that four years ago, Basarwa (whom they refer to as Bushmen), won a landmark court ruling, which noted that they have the right to live on their ancestral lands.
“However, since the ruling, the government has banned the Bushmen from accessing a borehole which they rely on for water, forcing them to make up to 300 mile round trips to fetch water,” read the statement.
Following Survival’s allegations among Wilderness Safari’s shareholders, friends and relatives of President Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the Office of the President issued a press release last week distancing him from the company.
Dr Jeff Ramsay stated that the Khama “does not have any investments in tourism projects within the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve.”
Ramsay added that OP was still commitment to the ongoing consultative process with all CKGR stakeholders, noting the President’s November 2009 statement to Parliament, at which he stated that the “Government remains committed to ensuring that local communities are involved in, and derive direct benefits from, the sustainable management of local resources. This includes those living in and adjacent to the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve, where a revised Management Plan now forms the basis for our ongoing consultations. It is my intention and hope that we shall achieve sufficient consensus to finally bring closure to this matter.”