29 June 2017

South Africa: Mbeki - Masire's Leadership 'Made Us Proud to Call Ourselves Africans'

Former president Thabo Mbeki has paid tribute to ex-Botswana leader Sir Ketumile Masire, who was laid to rest in his home village, Kanye, outside the capital Gaborone.

Masire died in hospital last week at the age of 91.

He was buried on Thursday, next to his wife.

Said Mbeki: "We can proclaim to all humanity that from this small acre of Africa was born a son Ketumile Masire, whose quality of leadership made us proud to call ourselves African."

Mbeki also paid tribute to the role that Masire played during the liberation struggles of the southern region and the rest of Africa.

He said that Masire will always be remembered "for the central role that he and his colleagues played in ensuring that this republic and its people remain steadfast in their principle support for the total liberation of Africa".

Mbeki was among various African dignitaries, who attended Masire's funeral. These included Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Lesotho's King Letsie III.

'Virtuous and humble man'

Masire was the president of Botswana from 1980 to 1998.

He led various diplomatic initiatives in Africa, including chairing a panel that investigated the 1994 Rwanda genocide, and co-ordinating the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue.

Meanwhile, Mugabe, who was also one of the key speakers at the funeral, described the late Botswana leader as a "virtuous and humble" man, who "opened his life to us with a generosity of spirit that was so much a part of his character".

"The death of Sir Ketumile Masire has not only robbed Botswana of a great leader but has also deprived southern Africa and out entire continent of a great statesman, who served with valour and honour...

"When he (Masire) took over as president of Botswana in July 1980, the liberation struggles in South Africa and Namibia were at their peak. President Masire would not be intimidated by the might of the apartheid army into submission as Botswana continued to render assistance to the liberation movements of both countries," said Mugabe.

Source: News24

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