Former Botswana president, Sir Ketumile Masire, was praised for his dedication to democracy at a memorial service held for him in the country’s capital yesterday.
Masire passed away in hospital last week at the age of 91.
The memorial service for the late president was held in Gaborone yesterday and was attended by several African dignitaries, presidents and former presidents.
Former Mozambican president, Armando Guebuza, arrived in Gaborone on Wednesday, alongside former Tanzanian president, Benjamin Mkapa, and former South African president, Thabo Mbeki.
Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, arrived in the country on Wednesday. He was accompanied by nine of his cabinet ministers as well as other Zimbabwean business leaders.
Lesotho’s King Letsie III also arrived on Wednesday.
Speaking at his memorial, Masire’s successor, former Botswana president, Festus Mogae, praised Masire for his determination in bringing social and economical reforms to Botswana. He called his leadership ‘democratic to a fault’.
Mogae also said that Masire had a passion for farming and food production in Botswana.
“[Masire] was a workaholic whose obsession was farming and food production…he would ring at 03:00 and say ‘by the way did we agree we would do this next week’[sic],” Mogae said of Masire’s work ethic.
Current Vice-President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, said that Masire’s legacy will never be forgotten and that he had laid the foundation for a thriving democratic country.
“He leaves behind a solid foundation of Botswana’s sustainable economy. We will indeed miss RaGaone’s hearty signature laughter. He had a good reputation as a mediator within the region…His principles of peace resolution and respect for human rights will forever remain rooted in our lives as Batswana. As Batswana, we are extremely blessed to have had a leader of his repute,” Masisi said.
US President Donald Trump sent his condolences to the people of Botswana, calling Masire ‘one of the giants of African peace and democracy’.
Masire’s body lay in state in Botswana’s parliament yesterday. He will be buried in his hometown of Kanye today.