Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama paid the family of the late statesman Sir Ketumile Masire a visit on Sunday, to discuss the intricacies of the funeral arrangements.

The funeral will be held in Kanye on Thursday, and will be preceded by a memorial service in the capital Gaborone.

Masire is being lauded for his promotion of multi-party democracy, during his 18 year rule as the landlocked country’s president. Preparations are well underway for his funeral, the man is praised for his visionary leadership that paved a way for the modern day Botswana.

On Sunday, President Ian Khama met with Masire’s family, where they discussed the details of the funeral, which is declared a state funeral.

On Tuesday the body of the late statesman will lie in state at Parliament buildings. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday in Gaborone and the funeral in Kanye on Thursday. Government spokesperson, Jeff Ramsey says they are expecting dignitaries and heads of states to attend the funeral.

“Police are working alongside the military because it is a state funeral, with the Morafe, the tribe in Kanye, of course church leaders, protocol of foreign affairs. So, it is multi-tasking, a group effort.”

Masire was at the forefront of promoting multi-partism and respect for the rule of law

Masire’s Botswana Democratic Party ruled Botswana for 50 years, since it attained its independence from Britain. It has however, allowed other parties to exist even at the time most African countries were one party states.
Masire was at the forefront of promoting multi-partism and respect for the rule of law. “He played a pivotal role in fostering democracy, in nurturing it, and encouraging the growth and development of political parties in this country. It was under his reign that many democratic electoral reforms were carried out, and he was a president who wanted to see all the democratic energies of his people channelled properly. And he, even to his last days firmly believed in democracy. He spoke out against what he felt troubled our society,” says President of the Coalition of Opposition Parties, Umbrella for Democratic Change, Duma Boko.
The ruling party in Botswana is also singing Masire’s praises. He came up with the idea of two terms for the president, a decision that led to him stepping down the following year. BDP Secretary-General Botsalo Ntuane says Masire was a true democrat, who stood with those who refused the motion in the 1970’s to declare Botswana a one party state.
“He actually voted himself out of office, when he introduced two term presidency in 1997, and in 1998 he volunteered to step aside from the presidency. So, quite clearly, we are talking about a democrat, a reformist, and a constitutionalist and over and above that, in later years in retirement, an internationalist, a nationalist of note, a father of this nation.”
Botswana government spokesperson Ramsey says former SA president Thabo Mbeki has confirmed attendance of late statesman’s funeral. Click below for more on the story:

– By Itumeleng Kgajane