KATLEGO SIBANDA in Gaborone, Botswana
GABORONE – DIGNITARIES including Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and United States leader, Donald Trump, paid tribute to former Botswana President, Sir Ketumile Quett Masire at his burial yesterday.
Speaking at the burial in Kanye village, Mugabe described Masire as the cornerstone of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“He commanded respect without even demanding it. His generosity of spirit was so much a part of his character,” Mugabe said, adding that the deceased’s charisma saw SADC and African Union send him on various missions,” said Mugabe.
He retained fond memories working with Masire in brokering a peace deal that ended decades of civil war in Mozambique in 1992.
Mugabe hailed the late politician as “an asset in so many ways.”
Trump also sent a message of condolence that was read at the burial.
He celebrating Masire as one of the giants of African peace and democracy.
“As one of Botswana’s enlightened founding fathers, President Masire helped your remarkable nation become one of Africa’s great democratic and development success stories,” Trump said.
He expressed admiration of Masire’s continued dedication to public service as an elder statesman after leaving office in 1998 after 18 years as president.
Trump highlighted Masire’s role in resolving the Rwandan genocide and addressing conflict in the Great Lakes region.
Former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, applauded Masire’s role in fighting apartheid government in South Africa.
Current Botswana President, Ian Khama, disclosed cabinet was discussing the best way to honour Masire’s legacy.
“This is something that we going to do,” Khama assured.
Masire, president from 1980 to 1998, died from an undisclosed illness last week.
– CAJ News