Policy shift or mere sham?

Published: Wednesday 15 December 2004

It is not yet celebration time Botswana's president Festus Mogae seems to have suddenly softened his stance towards the Bushmen. He recently told a group of visiting members of parliament from the uk that Bushmen were permitted to hunt in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve provided they used traditional weapons like bows and arrows and not rifles, which they have taken to of late.

Mogae's statement came as a surprise because in the past few years, the government has banned all hunting and gathering by the Bushmen staying in the reserve. It even cut off their water supply and barred anyone from carrying food or water inside the reserve. The Bushmen were arrested, tortured and evicted from their reserve. They have sued the government, to get their homes back. According to Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, a global organisation fighting for tribal rights, Mogae's statement might reflect a true policy change or could be a mere tactic to fool the visitors. Mogae could also be unaware of the real policy towards Bushmen. If the first, a new dawn beckons Kalahari's little people.

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