Botswana Official Admits: “Bushmen Were Evicted for Diamonds”

A senior Botswana government official has admitted that the Kalahari Bushmen were evicted from their land to make way for diamond mining in a new book published this month.

The official, a ‘highly placed government employee’ at the time of the 2002 eviction of the Bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, told American author James G. Workman ((The book Heart of Dryness by James G. Workman examines the Botswana government’s campaign to evict the Bushmen, using water as a weapon.)) :

“I have seen the plans; I have looked at the blueprints. Don’t quote me by name, please, as I would get in trouble. But of course the water cut-off has to do with diamonds. It has everything to do with diamonds.”

The Botswana government disabled the Bushmen’s vital water borehole when it evicted them, and poured their water supplies into the sand. It has repeatedly denied that the reserve’s diamond deposits were behind the evictions, although Survival International and others have long maintained this was the cause.

The planned diamond mine on the Bushmen’s land was shelved earlier this year due to the global recession. The diamond deposit in the reserve was previously owned by De Beers, who sold it to the company Gem Diamonds soon after the Botswana High Court ruled in 2006 that the Bushmen had been forcibly evicted. In 2007 Gem Diamonds valued the deposit at $2.2bn, and announced its intention to open the mine as soon as possible.

Many Bushmen have returned to the Central Kalahari since their High Court victory, but the government continues to prohibit them from accessing water, and the Bushmen have begun new legal proceedings to secure this right.

Survival International, founded in 1969 after an article by Norman Lewis in the UK's Sunday Times highlighted the massacres, land thefts and genocide taking place in Brazilian Amazonia, is the only international organization supporting tribal peoples worldwide. Contact Survival International at: Read other articles by Survival International, or visit Survival International's website.