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Small scale land-grabbing by political and economical elites in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Gaborone, Botswana

Botswana is placed in high danger of land-grabbing issue because of the vast rural area and the dynamic of the population. We are presenting here on of the most publicized case of land-grabbing in Gaborone: the relocation of San communities from the CKGR.


The Greater Gaborone is known as the hotspot of Botswana’s land regime. The region represents the City of Gaborone and the surrounding villages: Tlokweng (east of Gaborone) and Mogoditshane (west of Gaborone). It has 102,000 ha, of which tribal communities own 64%, 21% is state land, and 15% is freehold land [1]. Both Tlokweng and Mogoditshane predate the city of Gaborone, the capital of independent Botswana in the early 1960s. Since then, Gaborone has experienced strong economic growth and has been recognized as the focal point of the country’s administrative, commercial, educational, industrial, and financial fields. The city’s population has increased from 3,900 in 1964 to almost 274,000 in 2022. Greater Gaborone represents 17% of the national population, but a much higher share of the national economic output, which has always put enormous pressure on the demand for land for housing, trade, industries, and other activities [2]. The strong demand for land began in Gaborone in the 1960s and 1970s, but it quickly spread to suburban villages, resulting in an almost insatiable demand for land characterized by auto-allocation, illegal land transactions, and land grabbing in order to exact diamond in the Greater Gaborone area. Where large-scale land-grabbing cases are more intended for production of fuel or food, scale-scale land grabbing in Botswana are more intended for lining or water supply.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Small scale land-grabbing by political and economical elites in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Gaborone, Botswana
State or province:Gaborone
Location of conflict:Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

City's population of Greater Gaborone: 274,000 in 2022.

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Project area:52,800
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:49,000 people
Start of the conflict:01/01/1960
Relevant government actors:Government of Botswana
Former President Festus Mogae
Botswana's economical and political elites
DeBeers Botswana Mining Company
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Kuru family of Organization (organisation fighting to empower San communities)
- Survival International (human right organisation fighting for the rights of indigenous or tribal peoples)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Landless peasants
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
San people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Application of existing regulations
Use of the Tribal land Act to be compensated
Proposal and development of alternatives:San groups used the provisions of the Tribal Land Act to address displacement from their traditional lands.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:San Communities have been compensated but the compensation was nothing compared to the loss of their land: roughly P44 million was spent on public facilities.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Tribal Land Act
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1]Faustin Kalabamu & Paul Lyamuya, 2021. Small-scale land grabbing in Greater Gaborone, Botswana. (Online)
[click to view]

[2]Kenneth Good, 2008. Diamonds, Dispossession and Democracy in Botswana.
[click to view]

[3] Morten Jerven, 2010. Accounting for the African Growth Miracle: The Official Evidence of Botswana 1965-1995
[click to view]

[4]Kenneth Good, 2007. Authoritarian liberalism: A defining characteristic of Botswana
[click to view]

[5]Boga Thura Manatsha, 2009. Chiefs and the Politics of Land Reform in the Northeast District, Botswana, 2005–2008
[click to view]

[6]Motsomi Ndala Marobela, 2010. The State, Mining and the Community: The Case of Basarwa of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana.
[click to view]

[7]Keitseope Nthomang, 2004. Relentless colonialism: the case of the Remote Area Development Programme (RADP) and the Basarwa in Botswana.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Survival International website
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update07/06/2022
Conflict ID:5865
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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