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Jealously guard Masire’s principles

Publishing Date : 06 July, 2017

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The second president of this Republic, Sir Ketumile Masire was laid to rest on Thursday in Kanye. From the many tributes that celebrated his life, it is evident that he lived a fruitful, purposeful, selfless and distinguished life. Sir Ketumile is one of our founding fathers, having led this country from 1980 to 1998 as president. He is one of the foremost architects of our democracy. We celebrate his life as a nation, but one thing that should occur all the time to our conscience is to always remember the principles and ideals he (and others) followed when they laid the foundation for this beautiful Republic.

“Let us remember the road he has walked to walk it, or get our people and children to walk it,” President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe advised as he paid tribute to his “friend, comrade, brother” on Thursday. We agree with President that Sir Ketumile walked in the direction of democracy, rule of law, good governance, and inclusiveness among other things. It I compelling that those who remain on earth continue where Sir Ketumile left of for the good of this nation and the world. Ecclessians 1:4, generations come, generations go, the earth remains forever, consoles us the most for we know Sir Ketumile has played his part and has lived truthfully to be best of his ability for his fellow country men and women

There is no doubt that Masire was one of Africa’s greatest leaders. Masire’s time in office was the most difficult for Botswana, not least because it was in the firing line in the wars against apartheid. Through his shrewd leadership skills he managed to hold Botswana together whilst in the midst of regional turbulence.  As Vice President and Minister of Finance and Development Planning, as well as President, Sir Ketumile contributed immensely to Botswana's emergence from being ranked as one of the world's ten least developed nations to middle income status. During the same period Botswana also made enormous strides in the provision of education, health and social welfare – a legacy that punctuates Sir Ketumile’s contribution to the development of this nation. We are certain that he is at peace at his final resting place.

“In 1950 Masire became the first teacher as well as head-teacher of the new Kanye Junior Secondary School (now Seepapitso Senior Secondary School). In the early years he taught eight subjects - Setswana, English, History, Philosophy and Hygiene, Geography, Mathematics, General Science and Music.” This just shows the passion that the former President had for education and uplifting lives. As a tribute to him we must continue to take education seriously and empower our people through quality education.

While still working in education, Masire had maintained his lifelong passion for agriculture, a clear sign that he valued hardwork, wanted Batswana to be in a position to produce their own food. Today, as we are aware, most Batswana have abandoned agriculture, or it is a generally deteriorating sector. We must go back to the crossroads and find our way back to agriculture.

Masire was the editor of the Naledi ya Batswana/African Echo newspaper. It was in this role that he became politically engaged and first met Seretse Khama. This is further a demonstration that Sir Ketumile valued freedom of expression. He was a good friend of the media.

“We learn that late in 1961 Masire was approached by Seretse Khama and others to play the leading role in organising what would become the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Drawing on his many newspaper and educational contacts, Masire quickly established an organisational network that became the basis for the party's landslide 81% of the vote in the 1965 general election. He also established and edited Therisanyo, a party periodical that appeared regularly from 1963 to 1967. From the beginning the new political government was to a great extent a partnership between Seretse's vision and charisma and Masire's energy and organisational ability.” From this extract we learn of Sir Ketumile’s patience, consultative approach, and constitutionalism.

And he left us a few take home notes:

Appearing on Matlhoaphage, a Btv weekly program hosted by Thebeyame Ramoroka in 2011, Masire stated that he believed Botswana had reached an era in which political parties should enjoy political funding from the state. Prior to leaving power in 1998, Masire championed several constitution reforms which nourished Botswana’s democracy. Masire introduced the 10 year presidential term, reduced voting age to 18 to enfranchise more people as well creating the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

In his last interview three weeks ago, Masire stated his opposition to the controversial Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) saying it was not only unnecessary but had the potential to cause instability. “In a democracy like ours, elections belong to citizens, not the government and its institutions. Government institutions conduct elections on behalf of the people,” Masire was quoted as saying by weekly publication Botswana Guardian.



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