Botswana government announced the opening of Ghaghoo diamond mine inCentral Kalahari Game Reserve, ancestral land of Africa’s Basarwa (Bushmen) tribe. The mine reportedly has a resource of over 20 million carats and is expected to yield around 200,000 – 220,000 carats per anum, making it one of the world’s largest diamond mines. The deposits are expected to be worth $4.9 billion thus adding hugely to revenues of one of the largest diamond producing countries of the world.
Botswana has been evicting the tribal population living on the land ever since diamonds were found in 2002. The government had initially claimed that the tribal eviction was to protect the wildlife of the region and has no connection to the diamond deposits receiving plaudits from conservationists. The opening of the mine has revealed true intentions of government policy.
Local Bushmen tribe have been deprived of free movement, access to water resource and even their lawyer, who has been barred from entering the country. The bushmen had in 2002 sought help of Survival International – advocate for rights of tribal people, who in turn had raised concerns but were apparently misguided by the government.
The mining operations is a conclusive proof of hazards of mining on two fronts – massive displacement of local population living near the mine areas and destruction of ecological systems for financial gain of few interested parties. Botswana government’s actions raise the question whether the government exists for welfare of its people or are people sacrificial to country’s financial interests? International controls and processes have completely failed in this scenario, begging the question – how far the greed of possessing a mined diamond will take us?