Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Diamonds or Water?

Botswana's Bushmen have been forbidden from fetching water from their own borehole reserve after several water boreholes were sunk in preparation for a diamond mine in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

The exploratory boreholes were created as part of the environmental assessment which precedes the construction of Gem Diamonds' US $2.2 billion diamond mine at Gope, a traditional Bushman community within the reserve. The mine will require several wells to supply it with enough water to operate, in addition to the vast volumes of water that will be extracted from the mine pit itself.

As a result, Bushmen from the reserve have petitioed the government of Botswana to allow them to re-open a single borehole at Mothomelo, within the reserve, ever since the government dismantled it to 'encourage' people to relocate in 2002. Until their unlawful eviction from the reserve, Mothomelo had been the Bushmen's main source of water. The Bushmen won the legal right to return to their homes in December 2006, but the government continues to make this "almost impossible by refusing to allow them to operate a water borehole in what is an extremely arid and inhospitable environment," said Survival International.

"There is only one reason behind the government allowing the diamond miners to sink unlimited boreholes and preventing the Bushmen from using just one - the cruel vindictiveness of a government determined to keep the Bushmen out of their ancestral lands, and intent on making them pay for their victory in the high court," Stephen Corry, the Director of Survival International, said.

"The diamonds from this mine will be tokens of hate, not love," he said.

Source: Afrol News

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