July 15, 2002
De Beers Rebuts Accusations
The De Beers Group issued a statement denying accusations by human rights organization Survival International that De Beers' mining and exploration in Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve caused Botswana's resettlement program for Bushmen tribes in the vicinity.
Botswana says it is conducting the resettlement to better provide health care, education and other development needs for the Bushmen, who migrated to the Central Kalahari after De Beers produced water in the area as an offshoot of a drilling exploration. De Beers supplied the water to the Bushmen for livestock use and donated a pump and tank to the local community so they could access the water after De Beers left. The exploration proved mining would not be commercially viable there, so De Beers dismantled its prospecting plant and returned the site to its former state.
In its press release, De Beers says it never sought the removal of the Bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. "Diamond mining does not require the removal or resettlement of any community ... indeed we welcome the presence of local populations to whom we can offer employment." De Beers also said Botswana's resettlement program applies to Bushmen throughout the country, not just in the Central Kalahari.
Botswana, the biggest producer of diamonds in the world, owns and manages its mines in a 50/50 partnership with De Beers through a company called Debswana. Survival International is a group that has long championed the interests of indigenous peoples worldwide.
by Peggy Jo Donahue