CNN – ‘Critics see democracy eroding’

A Reuters report published on CNN yesterday cites the government’s treatment of the Kalahari Bushmen and the banning of 17 people including Survival International staff as evidence of Botswana’s ‘eroding democracy’.

‘The government's handling of a high-profile legal battle with the San Bushmen – Africa's last hunter gatherers – has added to the concerns about its commitment to democracy and minority rights,’ reads the report.

It continues, ‘Botswana's highest court ruled last year the government had illegally forced the San Bushmen off their ancestral lands and said they should be allowed to return.

‘The government has said it will abide by the ruling but placed conditions on the rights of the Bushmen to return to their land in the Kalahari.

‘Earlier this month it banned the head of Survival International — a pressure group that backed the Bushmen in their battle — from the country. The list of banned individuals also included BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, former Financial Times Africa editor David White and another Australian academic who has criticized the government.’

The Media Institute for Southern Africa has urged the Botswana government to reconsider the restrictions on journalists.

Siphamandla Zondi of South Africa's Institute for Global Dialogue is quoted in the CNN report: ‘There is a worrying trend in Botswana about how the government responds to dissent. It needs to be careful that perceptions it is becoming dictatorial and eroding its hard-fought record on democracy are not allowed to fester.’
 
Read the report on CNN in full

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]