On behalf of the United States as host country, I would like to express my government’s deep condolences to the people and government of Botswana on the passing of former President Ketumile. Although it is with great sadness that we learned of President Masire’s passing, we are heartened by the knowledge that he lived an extraordinary life and that his influence is still widely felt in Botswana today.
His work to instill Botswana with democracy, constitutionalism, and the underpinnings of the rule of law demonstrates the best in leadership, and we can learn from him while celebrating his and Botswana’s accomplishments.
As one of Botswana’s founding fathers and its second president, President Masire embraced democracy knowing it offered the best form of government for his country. And like our own founding father George Washington, President Masire recognized the importance of term limits in facilitating a stable democracy. During his time as president, President Masire helped establish the presidential term limits that shape Botswana’s government to this day.
As President Reagan said upon meeting him in 1984, “Botswana’s success as a free and democratic nation owes much to the wise leadership of President Masire.”
Hand in hand with democracy, he worked to improve Botswana’s prosperity, and under his watch Botswana capitalized on its natural resources and witnessed its economy grow considerably. And yet, President Masire knew that a country is more than its natural resources. He took the prosperity that his country gained and invested in the people. Rather than revel in the present, he invested in the future. Instead of building statues, he built schools.
The United States applauds President Masire’s significant efforts to increase education throughout Botswana both during his tenure and afterwards with the establishment of the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation.
A dedicated public servant, President Masire never truly stopped working to improve the lives of others. His post-presidency work as elder statesmen and goodwill ambassador brought clarity to the circumstances surrounding the Rwandan genocide and helped bring peace to the Great Lakes region. He was a true champion of peace.
Through his efforts, President Masire created a rock solid foundation upon which his country could grow. He knew what would last – a stable democracy – and worked tirelessly to create a country that gave its citizens the best possible chance at development. The continued success of Botswana stands as a testament to his leadership and ensures that his legacy will remain long after his passing.
As President Trump recently stated “President Masire’s legacy is the standard for all leaders.” The United States again offers its deepest condolences to the Masire Family and to the people of Botswana.