De Beers disputes claims of NGO

De Beers has issued a statement denying that it is involved in a resettlement campaign of Bushmen located in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

According to a statement by De Beers, Stephen Corry, director general of Survival International, a non-government organization that supports the rights of indigenous people around the world, charges that De Beers is the cause behind the government of Botswana’s program to relocate members of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen who located there after De Beers considered the site in the area for diamond mining 15 years ago.

According to the statement, De Beers says the Bushmen migrated to the area when De Beers did exploratory mining. They were attracted to area for the water at the site produced during the de-watering process. De Beers says it supplied the water for them for their livestock and later supplied a pump and a borehole west of the mine site. The area, known as the “Gope prospect,” proved to be commercially unviable, the statement says. So the company has taken away the prospecting plant, is dismantling the shaft headgear and “the site made safe and secure,” the statement reads. “Those Bushmen who remain in the area continue to have access to this water.”

Botswana, De Beers said, is planning the resettlement to provide better healthcare, education, and other development needs.

“De Beers has never sought the removal of the Bushmen from the CKGR,” the statement reads. “Diamond mining does not require the removal or resettlement of any community, in Botswana or elsewhere. Indeed, we welcome the presence of local populations to whom we can offer employment.”

The statement continues, “Mr. Corry’s actions in pursuing the entirely unfounded link between government resettlement policy and diamonds in Botswana, and his determination to continue disseminating allegations that are both vexatious and untrue, is threatening to undermine the reputation of Survival International, earned and maintained over so many years by his colleagues.”