Remarks by H.E. Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly, at Special Commemorative Event to Pay Tribute to the Late Former President of the Republic of Botswana, H.E. Sir Ketumile Masire
13 July 2017, New York
Chef de Cabinet, Maria Luiza Viotti
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The passing of former President of Botswana H.E. Sir Ketumile Masire on June 22, 2017 at 92 years of age gives us pause to consider the life of this great man.
Today we, the UN membership, come together to honour his memory and his example.
From his beginnings as a humble shepherd who suffered family tragedy as a young man, Sir Ketumile Masire went on to become one of the African continent’s most influential Presidents.
Throughout his life, with undeniable charisma, Sir Ketumile put his political skill and his ability to excel in whatever role he found himself, to the cause of the common good.
During his career, Sir Ketumile was a teacher, a school principal, and a farmer who embraced innovation. He became a newspaper editor, a political visionary, a Finance Minister, a President and a Peacemaker.
In each and every role, it was clear his primary objective was to advance the development of his people, his country, and his region.
It is in no small part due to the wise and able leadership of Sir Ketumile that Botswana has become a model for advancing democracy and economic development.
I have no doubt that the late President Masire’s legacy of hard work, integrity and sacrifice will endure. It has deep roots, planted by knowing hands.
Let us consider that legacy. He believed that political differences should be resolved through the ballot rather than the bullet.
He believed and proved that Africa was ready to take its proper place as a leader in the world. In his roles as Minister of Finance, Vice-President and President, he steered Botswana from the lower ranks of least developed countries to its status as a middle income country.
He was one of the founding fathers of the Southern African Community, serving as its Chair for 16 years.
The late President will be long remembered in Botswana and the world as a model of selfless public service in the cause of good governance and sustainable development.
He is an example for us all.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
As President of the General Assembly, I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to the late President’s family and to the Government, the delegation and the people of Botswana who have lost one of their greatest sons.
May the soul of Sir Ketumile Masire rest in peace.
I now request those present to rise and observe a minute of silence in memory of the late President Ketumile Masire.