San relocation continues
Gaborone – Botswana has confirmed the voluntary relocation of 15 families from Ranyane to the neighbouring Bere settlement in the Ghanzi District.
The relocation of the Ranyane San or Basarwa has been seen by some as a violation of a recent Botswana High Court injunction preventing the forced removal of some Bushmen until the case returns to court on June 18. However, government spokesperson, Jeff Ramsay, has defended the move saying, “All of the families in question were among those who have previously expressed a desire to be facilitated in relocating to Bere.
“In this context, we do anticipate further movements and shall, therefore, continue to honour our commitment to inform the public as and when they occur, as well as report on any other significant developments in the community.”
He added that, “It may be further noted that none of the households who have moved this week are associated with any legal interdict.
“In light of the above, there is no merit to the allegations being mass-circulated to the media by the London-based Survival International organisation, and their supporters at the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA), that the government of Botswana is either forcibly removing people from Ranyane or defying a court order,” said Ramsay.
Ranyane is an informal settlement located in the Ghanzi District close to its border with the northern Kgalagadi District.
As of the 2011 census, Ranyane had a population of 182, up from 94 recorded in the 2001 census.
“Here it may be further noted that the community, like most in Botswana, is, moreover, of mixed ethnicity, notably including people of Khwe/San (Basarwa), Chiherero and Shekgalagari cultural heritage.
“The characterisation that the now on-going voluntary relocation solely involves Khwe/San (Basarwa) is, in this respect, inaccurate and misleading,” said Ramsay.
Ramsay said last year and early this year there were intensive consultations ‑ including five Kgotla meetings ‑ between local authorities and Ranyane residents, many of whom have indicated a desire to relocate.
“A total of 31 households, representing just over 100 residents had, as of last month, registered a desire to be facilitated in relocating, with 26 households expressing a desire to be assisted in moving to Bere, four to Chobokwane and one family to New Xanagas,” said Ramsay.
Ramsay said among the reasons given by those wishing to relocate to Bere, Chobokwane and New Xanagas is that the three formal settlements, unlike Ranyane, have government schools and medical facilities.
Currently, government supports Ranyane students attend boarding schools.
There are, however, other families at Ranyane who have indicated their desire to remain.
“To reiterate, the government of Botswana has no plans to remove those who wish stay at Ranyane,” said Ramsay.
But the executive secretary of the Khweidom Council, a council for all Basarwa in Botswana, Keikabile Mogodu, described the continued relocation of Ranyane residents as a violation of the court order.
Mogodu said despite the court order, government officials have now been camping at Ranyane to entice gullible villagers into moving out of their village.
Since the court order, government has announced three relocations of residents and their livestock.
The court had halted any relocation of the residents of Ranyane pending a government challenge against the order in court. But the government claims residents being relocated from the settlement were not part of the court battle.
The on-going relocation of Ranyane residents was first announced by British non-governmental organisation, Survival International, about two weeks ago, but government quickly denied any intention to relocate the residents.