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9 July 2024; Gaborone, Botswana: The Botswana Gazette is returning to the Court of Appeal on Thursday, 11 July 2024. This is to appeal a 2023 High Court ruling that dismissed the publication’s application to have the country’s water company, Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), release a report on the water flow into the Gaborone Dam. The Gaborone Dam is an essential reservoir that supplies water to Greater Gaborone and the surrounding areas.

In a January 2014 article titled ‘The rich blocking water flow in Gaborone Dam,’ a local publication described how the WUC had commissioned a study that allegedly revealed an unauthorised damming of the rivers that feed into the Gaborone Dam.

The Botswana Gazette wrote to the WUC to publish the report, which the WUC declined. The Gazette argued in the High Court that it was irrational to withhold such crucial information, as the impact on the water supply could have dire consequences for the public. The Gazette further argued that Section 12 of the Botswana Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, including the right to access information. The High Court ruled that the right to access information, though constitutional, was yet to be legislated for and therefore dismissed the application.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) supports the Gazette through Rantao Attorneys and argues that the right to access information is fundamental and enjoined to freedom of expression in a democratic Botswana. It is essential in enabling the public to participate in democratic processes to secure future water resources and livelihoods.

The issue before the Court of Appeal is fundamentally about the right to access information – a crucial right that the African Commission’s guidelines on the right to water in Africa highlight as critical. These guidelines reiterate this right, calling for ‘full and equal access in an understandable and adapted manner to information concerning water management whether public institutions or third parties hold this information.’

Botswana’s Third National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, October 2019, estimates a 20% decrease in water inflow in dams by 2050. Due to its high dependence on rain-fed agriculture and natural resources, Botswana is considered highly vulnerable to the prevailing climate emergency. Therefore, the urgent need for sharing information on managing the country’s resources must be a top priority.

SALC believes the right to access information is crucial for Botswana’s democratic dispensation and economic progress. This right should be enforceable pending future legislation in light of the climate emergency.


By: Melusi Simelane – Civic Rights Programme Manager – SALC


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