Why The Hullaballoo?

Date:

I recently read in one of the local newspapers where the author saw no reason why Botswana should be worried about the UK Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill. This author argues that the UK is a sovereign state and has every right to ban imports of anything she does not want to enter her domain. He/she further argues that “if Botswana wants to ban importation of electric cars, it can do so, it would be within its rights to do so”. He further points out that this “is trade issue similar to Botswana’s bans on importation of potatoes” mainly from South Africa.

This argument has been made in different forums in Botswana and outside the country. Proponents of this narrative are asking “why the hullabaloo” on trophy hunting. They simply do not comprehend why as a country, Botswana appear to be worried about Britian making her own laws and that the UK may not even “interested in Botswana that accounts for a mere 4% of UK imports of hunting trophies”.

Well, this narrative might be correct that sovereign states make their own laws especially if most of the people as is the case in the UK support such a law. While this is the case, I am reminded of an almost similar narrative when some people in the western world were lobbying their governments to come up with laws that will prohibit importation of diamonds and its related products in their countries.

A UK human rights-based organisation known as Survival International under Mr Stephen Corry was at the forefront of the campaign which targeted Botswana and argued that the UK should impose an diamond importation ban on Botswana. Survival International described diamonds from Botswana as Blood or conflict diamonds. Blood diamonds are diamonds that are collected and sold by individual parties in areas of conflict to fund their activities. Most blood diamonds originate from war-torn countries in Africa that have experienced internal strife starting such as Sierra Leone, Angola, and Liberia.

Survival International argued that diamonds in Botswana are mined in areas which originally were a homeland for the Basarwa who were thus forcefully removed in these areas to give way for diamond mines. In this regard, Survival International argued that Botswana’s diamonds qualify to be classified as conflict or blood diamonds. President Festus Mogae campaigned globally against western states coming up with laws that will ban the importation of diamonds from Botswana into their countries even though by then Botswana has a less than 15% shares from De Beers which was involved in the sale of Botswana’s diamonds abroad. In addition, Botswana by then had about 48% shares in Debswana which was involved in the mining of diamonds in Botswana.

There is no doubt that the percentages shares of the diamonds were higher and diamond mining is still the leading economic sector in Botswana. Presently, tourism which includes both photographic and trophy hunting is the second largest economic sector in Botswana. Animal rights organisations such as Humane Society International (HSI) have adopted tactics like those of Survival International and make false and unfounded arguments of wildlife conservation, rural livelihoods and trophy hunting in Botswana.

The question I am therefore asking is, should Botswana fold her arms and do nothing about Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill when her hunting tourism, wildlife conservation and rural livelihoods are at stake. I do not think so. We all know that HSI and sister animal rights organisations work in the entire Europe, America, and Canada and very soon Botswana hunting tourism industry might be affected by such bills which are ill-informed and motivated by fake news. I will elaborate on this issue next week.

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