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Mugabe, Basarwa clash over civilization diatribe

Publishing Date : 25 May, 2015

Author : TEFO PHEAGE

ON A WORKING VISIT: SADC Chairman Robert Mugabe was in Botswana for two days this week on a working visit to the SADC headquarters in Gaborone. Mugabe used the platform of a press conference to indicate that there is no bad blood between him and President Lt Gen Ian Khama of Botswana. Mugabe also spoke about the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, announcing that South Africa needs a second liberation.


The President of Zimbabwe, who is also the Chairperson of Southern African Development Community (SADC), Robert Mugabe has come out hard on Basarwa community accusing them of among other things, resisting integration with neighbouring communities, and rebuffing civilization.


Mugabe remarked at a Press Conference this week at Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) that no African government should be blamed for Basarwa‘s slow or no integration into mainstream society.
Mugabe’s deep seated reservations about Basarwa were exposed when he was challenged about the usually unfair elections in Zimbabwe.


“I do not know what the Botswana government saw and they are entitled to their opinion. Our minds are different. For instance the Basarwa people in some parts of Botswana don't participate in the general elections, but would you say that the results of the elections mean that they are not free and fair," he charged. Mugabe turned the swords to Basarwa saying Basarwa shun education, integration and developments ‘and no government should be blamed for their underdevelopment.’


Basarwa activist, Roy Sesana and Basarwa youth forum leader, Xukuri Xukuri expressed shock at Mugabe’s onslaught choosing to label Mugabe an old age man who should not be taken seriously.


Sesana said Mugabe was a senile man who has no conscience, heart and thus cannot and should not be taken seriously. He referred to Mugabe as “seganana sese padileng sese tlhogo le pelo tse di omeletseng” (a stubborn man with no conscience).


“Who is he to judge us? The only people he can judge are the Zimbabweans who have unwillingly invaded the African continent as economic refugees as a result of his failure to govern. We are not shunning developments, what we are saying is that let the developments or services come to us as is the case with other communities or citizens,” Sesana said.


His words were echoed by the Basarwa youth forum leader, Xukuri Xukuri who accused Mugabe of misleading people and leaders. He said they have established several organizations to respond to Basarwa challenges. “Such words coming from the leaders of SADC are unfortunate and worrying,” he said.


It was not the first time the controversial Zimbabwean president attacked Basarwa. Speaking at a memorial service for the late Vice-President John Nkomo, who succumbed to cancer in January 2013, Mugabe according to Zimbabwean press, said the Landa John Nkomo High School still had little appeal among the Basarwa who are in Zimbabwe referred to as the San.


“I used to ask John: ‘How are you treating them?’ He would say: ‘They look after my cattle, but we have tried to get them to the culture of going to school and getting more civilised, but some of them continue to resist’,” he said.


“When he formulated the idea of the secondary school, I still asked: ‘Will you have room for the Bushmen?’ He said: ‘Yes, yes, yes of course’.” Mugabe added that the community still liked the “bush and meat more than we do”.


“But last night (Saturday) when I met Jabu (Nkomo’s son), he was telling me that they are facing challenges in getting some children from the Bushmen to attend school. It is still a difficult exercise,” he said.


“He (Jabulani) said the number is four or five. So they still want to just look after cattle and be in the bush. They have a culture which is very resistant to change.” Mugabe said the government had a responsibility of treating the Bushmen equally with other tribes before he cited other countries with the same tribesmen.


“We know in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa they have a similar problem of the Bushmen, but they are trying,” Mugabe said.


“John used to talk much about them. When they are together, they like slaughtering cattle and like meat more than we do and we should make sure we acculturate them.”


The San people, also known as the Bushmen or Basarwa, inhabit remote areas of southern Africa, particularly Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The san in these countries have a Council called the working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA) which strives to develop the political voice of the San Africa and member countries.


Together with First People of the Kalahari, WIMSA tries to promote support in Botswana and internationally for the plight of the San, marginalised by the system and the move towards a cash economy. WIMSA Botswana works on issues of land loss, education, representation and human rights and has formed a network of San organisations and groups in Botswana, striving to get even the smallest language groups amongst the San to join this network.


State president, Lt.Gen Ian Khama has blamed Basarwa’s struggles and tussles with the state on the international Human rights organisation, Survival international saying they continue to mislead Basarwa in the name of fighting for their rights.He said there is need for Basarwa to engage with the governement towards their development.

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