Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Home vs. Tourism

This is worse than home vs. golf. Squatters who have occupied the Gaborone Dam area in the capital city of Botswana for better than 40 years must be evicted to make way for uses more friendly to tourists, government officials have urged. The squatters have been occupying the area since the late 1960s and use sand from the Notwane River and water from the Gaborone Dam to mold bricks for commercial purposes. The government-run Botswana Press Agency has the details.

4 comments:

heath said...

While in reality and in outcome, this is no worse (to me at least) than evicting squatters under the guise of "redevelopment," it does seem particularly callous to worry more about tourists than one's own citizens.

When a government is more concerned about drumming up tourist business than about improving the welfare of its citizens, its a sure sign that the prevailing economic/political order has completely and utterly failed.

Stories like this tend to make me think my anarchist friends are right. Government will always takes sides against the poor and disenfranchised, and therefore government is the problem.

heath said...

Robert, do you buy into the environmental and disaster/safety concerns that are mentioned in the article?

rn said...

Hi Heath:

The environmental concerns seem bogus. The community's been there for 40 years and the government has been so concerned that people would be flooded that it's done absolutely nothing to help them stabilize their homes.

I understand that many cities are in pursuit of tourist dollars, but this seems absurd. At the very least, the Botswana government should be talking with these people about their future. At best, it should be coming up with a plan that allows both tourists and brick-makers to continue to flourish.

And yeah, sadly, governments often act against the poor and disenfranchised. But think about the word: 'disenfranchised' refers to people who have been denied vote and representation. The answer is not necessarily no government but true popular representation and enfranchisement. Of course, that disenfranchises the rich--or at least restricts some of the power they currently have.

Do we care?

Philippe de Rougemont said...

Who are the biggest squatters in Botswana ?
The government !
At independence in the 60s, it created a reserve (the CKGR) for the first inhabitants, the Bushmen, and occupied the rest of the land. But since 2-3 years, the government has evicted the Bushmen from their constitutionally alloted space and forced them to settle in camps hundreds of kilometers away, where alcohol, AIDS and suicide is taking its daily toll.
The Bushmen want to retrun to the CKGR and have brought the government to court. The case is still not closed. Survival International is calling for a boycot on tourism in the country as long as the Bushmen are not given the right to return to their reserve in the Kalahari.
To learn more: www.survival-international.org/news.php?id=1881