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Ray Molomo (1930-2019)

Publishing Date : 14 January, 2020

JEFF RAMSAY
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA


The late Matlhapeng Ray Molomo, who was buried this week, was a pre-eminent member of the founding generation of our Republic. A seemingly tireless individual throughout his long and varied career, he remained a relevant and respected voice in public affairs up till the time of his death.



Born in Mochudi on January 9, 1930, Molomo began his education at Tlhagale Primary, a night school set up by his own father to cater for the early education of herd boys. Thereafter he finished his primary education in Mochudi before going on to do his Junior Certificate at Ohlange High School in Durban, subsequently completing his secondary education at Tiger Kloof. After Tiger Kloof he taught at Bakgatla National School and later Kgari Sechele Secondary School before becoming the Principal of Isang Secondary School. He also had taught in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Lesotho.


His continuing thirst for education led him to enroll in correspondences courses at the University of South Africa (UNISA) where he majored in Philosophy and History. He also acquired a Post Graduate Diploma in Education from Rhodes University. In 1962, he enrolled for his Masters in Educational Psychology at University of Ottawa in Canada. He came back in 1964 and was appointed deputy principal at Serowe Teacher Training College and later acting principal at Lobatse Teacher Training College.


In 1965 he was nominated to become the President of the newly formed Botswana National Front, but declined the offer when it became apparent that he would have to choose between becoming active in politics and continuing his career as a civil servant. In 1968 he became an Educational Planner in the Ministry of Education, thereafter working as an undersecretary at the Ministry of Works and Transport before becoming Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education.


His popular book “Sebaga sa Lorato” was first published in 1969. Molomo resigned from government in 1975, allegedly after a fallout with the then Minister. Although he was just shy of the retirement age of 45, Sir Seretse Khama intervened to ensure he received his gratuity.


Molomo was also an avid football player and promoter, who founded the “Black Peril” football club. He served on the executive of the Bechuanaland Protectorate and subsequent Botswana Football Associations (BFA). As President of the BFA he gained additional notoriety in 1972 when some in Government challenged the Association for supposedly favouring Township Rollers in a dispute with Gaborone United. A commission was set up to adjudicate the matter, ultimately upholding the BFA in the matter. An apparent legacy of the dispute was the subsequent establishment of Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC)


From 1977 to 1984 Molomo was a senior lecturer, later head of Department at the University of Botswana. After being convinced to join the BDP in 1977, he left the University to engage active politics; being elected to Parliament in 1989. He thereafter served in Cabinet as the Minister of Education. 
Having been defeated for re-election in 1994, Molomo re-entered Parliament in 1999, when he was elected Speaker of Parliament, serving until 2004. During this period, he was also a member of the Pan-African Parliament.


His experience and insights as Speaker led him to write a book entitled “Democratic Deficit in Parliament of Botswana,” which focused his misgivings about the power of the Executive, as exercised through the Office of the President, over the Legislative and Judicial branches of Government. Molomo was a recipient of the Presidential Order of Honour in recognition of his efficient and devoted service to Botswana. In 2003 he was also bestowed the French National Order of Merit. MHSRIP.

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