Quett Masire

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Quett Masire
Quett Masire detail DF-SC-85-12044.JPEG
President of Botswana
In office
18 July 1980 – 31 March 1998
Acting: 13 July 1980 - 18 July 1980
Preceded by Seretse Khama
Succeeded by Festus Mogae
Personal details
Born (1925-07-23) 23 July 1925 (age 89)
Kanye, Bechuanaland
Nationality Batswana
Political party Botswana Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Gladys Molefi Olebile
Children 6
Alma mater Bangwaketse Reserve
Profession Teacher
Religion Christian

Quett Ketumile Joni Masire, GCMG (born 23 July 1925 in Kanye, Botswana) was the second President of Botswana for the Botswana Democratic Party from 1980 to 1998.[1][2] He stepped down and was succeeded by the then Vice-President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, who became the third President of Botswana.[2] Prior to this, he was a leading figure in the independence movement and then the new government, and played a crucial role in facilitating and protecting Botswana’s steady financial growth and development.

Early life[edit]

Son of a minor headman, he grew up in a community where male commoners, such as himself, were expected to become low-paid migrant labourers in the mines of South Africa. From an early age Masire set himself apart through academic achievement. After graduating at the top of his class at the Kanye school, he received a scholarship to further his education at the Tiger Kloof Educational Institute in South Africa.

In 1950, after graduating from Tiger Kloof, Masire helped found the Seepapitso II Secondary School, the first institution of higher learning in the Bangwaketse Reserve.[3] He served as the school's headmaster for about six years.[3] During this period he clashed with Bathoen II, the autocratic Bangwaketse ruler. Resenting Bathoen's many petty interferences in school affairs, Masire, working through the revived Bechuanaland African Teachers Association, became an advocate for the autonomy of protectorate schools from chiefly authority.

In 1957 Masire earned a Master Farmers Certificate and established himself as one of the territory's leading agriculturalists. His success led to renewed conflict with the jealous Bathoen, who seized his farms as a penalty for the supposed infraction of fencing communal land.

In 1958 Masire was appointed as the protectorate reporter for the African Echo/Naledi ya Botswana newspaper. He was also elected to the newly reformed Bangwaketse Tribal Council and, after 1960, the protectorate-wide African and Legislative Councils. Although he attended the first Kanye meeting of the People's Party, the earliest nationalist grouping to enjoy a mass following in the territory, he declined to join the movement.

Politics and governance[edit]

In the 1961 Masire helped found the Botswana Democratic Party BDP). He was instrumental in the formation of the party, and served as its first secretary-general.[1]

In 1965 the Democratic Party won 28 of the 31 contested seats in the new Legislative Assembly, giving it a clear mandate to lead Botswana to independence. The following year Masire became the new nation's vice-president, serving under Seretse.[2] Until 1980 he also occupied the significant portfolios of finance (from 1966) and development planning (from 1967), which were formally merged in 1971.

As a principal architect of Botswana's steady economic and infastructural growth between 1966 and 1980, Masire earned a reputation as a highly competent technocrat. However, his local Bangwaketse political base was eroded by his old nemesis Bathoen. During the initial years of independence the Democratic Party government moved decisively to undercut many of the residual powers of the chiefs. As a result, in 1969 Bathoen abdicated, only to reemerge as the leader of the opposition National Front. This set the stage for Bathoen's local electoral victory over Masire during the same year. However, the ruling party won decisively at the national level, thus allowing Masire to maintain his position as one of the four "specially elected" members of Parliament.

Presidency[edit]

Five days after the death of Seretse Khama, Masire was elected president by secret ballot at the National Assembly on 18 July 1980.[1] Masire's terms were characterised by an emphasis on developments through regional and international organisations. Masire was chairman of the Southern African Development Community[1] and vice chairman of the Organisation of African Unity; he was also chairman of the Global Coalition for Africa and a member of the UN group on Africa Development.

In August 1988, while flying with his staff to a summit in Angola, his executive jet was accidentally shot at by an Angolan Air Force MiG-23. The plane was damaged and Masire was injured, but the co-pilot was able to make a successful emergency landing. [4][5]

Post-Presidency[edit]

Since his retirement in 1998 Sir Ketumile Masire has been involved in numerous diplomatic initiatives in a number of African countries, including Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana and Swaziland. Between 1998 and 2000 he served as Chairman of the International Panel of Eminent Personalities Investigating the Circumstances Surrounding the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, and between 2000–2003 was the facilitator for the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue, which had the objective of bringing about a new political dispensation for the Democratic Republic of Congo, in terms of the Lusaka Ceasefire Accord.

In 2007, Sir Ketumile Masire set up the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation to promote the social and economic well being of the society of Botswana. The Foundation strives to facilitate and drive efforts to promote peace, good governance and political stability internationally; assist children with disabilities from birth; and promote innovation and alternatives in agriculture.

Sir Ketumile is also a founding Member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today’s national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organization composed of former heads of government, senior governmental and international organization officials who work closely with Heads of Government on governance-related issues of concern to them.

In May 2010 Sir Ketumile Masire led an African Union Election Observer Mission to the May 2010 Ethiopia Legislative Elections, and in October 2010 he co-led (with fellow GLF Member Joe Clark) a National Democratic Institute pre-election assessment mission in Nigeria, which identified a number of hurdles that could undermine a successful process surrounding the 2011 state and national polls.

He was the chancellor of the University of Botswana from 1982 - 1998.

Since 2003, he is member of the Club de Madrid,[6] an independent non-profit organization created to promote democracy and change in the international community.

Honours and accolades[edit]

  • Three Honorary Doctorates of Law (L.L.D.) from St. John University, New York, and Williams College, Massachusetts, in the United States (1980), and in the United Kingdom (1988)
  • Two Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Ohio University (1989), and DePaul University (1994) in the United States.
  • Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger (1989)
  • Grand Counsellor of the Royal Order of Sobhuza II, Swaziland (1989)
  • Honorary Knighthood of the Grand Cross of Saint Michael and Saint George (GCMG), UK (1991)
  • Namibia's Order of the Welwitschia (1995)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d G. Williams; Brian Hackland (1988). The dictionary of contemporary politics of Southern Africa. Taylor & Francis. pp. 147–8. ISBN 978-0-415-00245-5. 
  2. ^ a b c Dani Rodrik (2003). In search of prosperity: analytic narratives on economic growth. Princeton University Press. pp. 97–98. ISBN 978-0-691-09269-0. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Kayawe, Baboki (21 February 2011). "Masire's The African Democrat premiers at maitisong". The Monitor. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Accident description
  5. ^ AP News article
  6. ^ The Club of Madrid is an independent non-profit organization composed of nearly 100 democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers from over 60 different countries. It constitutes the world´s largest forum of former Heads of State and Government, who have come together to respond to a growing demand for support among leaders in democratic leadership, governance, crisis and post-crisis situations. All lines of work share the common goal of building functional and inclusive societies, where the leadership experience of our Members is most valuable.
Political offices
Preceded by
(–)
Vice-President of Botswana
1966–1980
Succeeded by
Lenyeletse Seretse
Preceded by
Seretse Khama
President of Botswana
1980–1998
Succeeded by
Festus Mogae