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Mugabe delivers moving eulogy as Masire laid to rest

Gun salute for Masire on Thursday. PHOTO BY DAILY NEWS

Masire a true comrade in struggle, says Mugabe and Nujoma

Kanye, Botswana| BOPA |  The late former Botswana President, Sir Ketumile Masire has been hailed as an asset to Southern Africa, and that he will always be cherished for his selfless contribution to the socio-economic and political development of the region.

Delivering a moving eulogy to his personal friend and one time fellow Frontline States leader, elder statesman, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe extolled Sir Ketumile’s virtues at his funeral in Kanye on Thursday. (download funeral programme bottom OR click here)

President Mugabe told mourners that Sir Ketumile was a great statesman who worked with ‘valour and honour’ for the development of Botswana and the liberation of the broader Southern African region.

“Sir Ketumile was an outstanding leader, an asset to us in so many ways. His ways and deeds commended him to our hearts. He is a national hero whose resoluteness for fighting for the betterment of the people of Botswana will forever be etched in our minds, and I am sure in the mind of each and every Motswana. His persistence and perseverance laid the foundation for the rapid economic transformation Botswana continues to experience,” Mugabe said.

President Mugabe noted that Sir Ketumile governed Botswana at a difficult period in history when neighbouring states were under the yoke of apartheid and white minority rule, but stood his ground in assisting fellow Africans in their struggle for freedom.

“Sir Ketumile took over as the President of Botswana when the liberation struggles against apartheid rule in South Africa and Namibia were intensifying. He would not be intimidated by the powerful apartheid army into submission, as Botswana continued to render assistance to liberation movements. I also worked with him in the formative years of the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (SADCC), now the Southern African Development Community (SADC),” Mugabe said.

Sir Ketumile was hard work and dedication

He singled out Sir Ketumile’s thinking, hard work and dedication as having been pivotal to Southern African states brining SADC into existence.

“It was his dedication, energy, and organisational ability which helped develop SADC. He served as the chairman and made Botswana the headquarters of SADC. Even after his retirement from office, he remained a servant of humanity who pursued peace. He became involved as the facilitator of the Inter-Congolese dialogue and through his labour peace could be attained. Earlier, I had worked with him in bringing together the Mozambique government and the RENAMO rebels in 1990s,” Mugabe said.

Mugabe said Sir Ketumile was his best friend in the SADC region, and that their families had grown close. “We will always cherish the legacy he left us, a more prosperous, progressive Africa. Let us look at the road he walked and get our children to walk in it. He gave us political pride and confidence as a neighbour, colleague and friend,”  Mugabe said.

FRONTLINE STATES LEADERS: Nyerere, Samora, Masire, Dos Santos and Kaunda

Nujoma, Mbeki say Masire was exemplary

Former Namibian president  Sam Nujoma also praised Sir Ketumile for his role in the struggle against white minority rule in the region. He said his country owes Sir Ketumile a debt of gratitude for always encouraging their freedom.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki said Batswana and Africa as a whole should be proud to have had within their midst a leader of the statue of Sir Ketumile Masire, who was an outstanding and exemplary leader.

Mbeki described Sir Ketumile as a ‘beautiful human being’ who dedicated his life to being of service to the people of Botswana and the broader African continent.

“Even though he has departed the world of the living, we will still walk tall throughout the world because, as Africans, 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,” Mr Mbeki said.

Masire was key in SADC

Mbeki also said he believes Sir Ketumile had presented a yardstick of what quality leadership is through his immense contribution to Botswana’s development during his three decade long service in the country’s national leadership.

“As all of us know, he served in the presidency of the Republic of Botswana as vice president and president for just over three decades, from 1966 to 1998. This was a critical period for the development of Botswana. Sir Ketumile was an exemplary statesman who has set benchmarks which define the essence of exemplary leadership,” Mbeki said.

He further said that Sir Ketumile was one of the continental leaders who helped build SADC while serving courageously as one of the leaders of the Frontline States; and was one of the ontinental leaders who served courageously as a Member of the Frontline States and an African renaissance co-architect who helped the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) overcome conflict.

“It remains true that the full story about the invaluable contribution of Botswana to the victory of the struggle against apartheid tyranny and the other liberation struggles in our region has not as yet been told. I am certain that I speak for all the peoples of Southern Africa when I pay a heartfelt tribute to Sir Ketumile for the central role he and his colleagues played in ensuring that this Republic and its people remained steadfast in their principled support for the total liberation of Africa,” Mbeki said.

Masire Funeral Programme by The Independent Magazine on Scribd

 

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