Mokgweetsi Masisi

Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi (born July 21, 1962) is the fifth and current President of Botswana, serving since 1 April 2018.[4][1][5] He served as the 8th Vice President of Botswana from 12 November 2014 to 1 April 2018. He was a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly for the Moshupa-Manyana constituency from 2009 to 2018.

Mokgweetsi Masisi
Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana.jpg
5th President of Botswana
Assumed office
1 April 2018
Vice PresidentSlumber Tsogwane
Preceded byIan Khama
Chairman of the Botswana Democratic Party
In office
1 April 2017 – 4 April 2018
Preceded byIan Khama
Succeeded bySlumber Tsogwane
8th Vice President of Botswana
In office
12 November 2014 – 1 April 2018
PresidentIan Khama
Preceded byPonatshego Kedikilwe
Succeeded bySlumber Tsogwane
Member of Parliament for
Moshupa / Manyana
In office
2009 – 1 April 2018
PresidentIan Khama
Preceded byMaitlhoko Mooka
Succeeded byKarabo Gare
Personal details
Born
Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi

(1962-07-21) 21 July 1962 (age 59)[1]
Moshupa, Bechuanaland
(now Botswana)
NationalityMotswana
Political partyBotswana Democratic Party
Spouse(s)
(m. 2002)
Children1[2]
ResidenceBotswana State House
Alma materUniversity of Botswana
Florida State University
Occupation
  • Politician
  • teacher
  • author
ProfessionTeacher[3]
Nickname(s)Sisiboy

Early life and educationEdit

Mokgweetsi Masisi is the son of Edison Masisi (1923–2003), the long-time MP for Moshupa and many-time cabinet member.[6] The younger Masisi grew up in Gaborone, attending Thornhill Primary School and Maru A Pula School.[6] One of his three brothers, Tshelang, was the MP for Francistown West for many years, while another is a retired army general. He also has a sister, Phadi.[6]

In school, Masisi competed in soccer and tennis,[6] but ultimately found acting to be his calling. In 1984, he won acclaim for his portrayal of the lead role in a Gaborone production of Cry the Beloved Country.[7] He has taken part in several South African films.[1]

In the 1980s, Masisi became a high school social studies teacher after graduating from the University of Botswana in 1984 in English and History. He taught at Mmanaana Secondary School in 1984 in Moshupa village before moving on to the University of Botswana in 1987 as a curriculum development specialist.

In 1989, he went to Florida State University to obtain a Master's degree in social sciences education, after Masisi met some FSU faculty members working in Botswana for the Junior Secondary Education Improvement Project.[8] Following graduation, he was employed by UNICEF in Botswana.[9]

CareerEdit

Masisi unsuccessfully sought the nomination of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to stand in Moshupa constituency in the 2004 general election.[10] However, he obtained the BDP nomination for the same seat prior to the 2009 general election and won the seat.[10] He was promptly appointed as Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration in October 2009. After a little more than a year as an assistant minister, he was appointed as Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration in January 2011.[1] Masisi became Minister of Education and Skills Development in an acting capacity in April 2014.[11] He was re-elected to his seat in Parliament in October 2014, and he was appointed as Minister of Education and Skills Development on 28 October 2014.[11] Masisi was appointed as Vice President of Botswana by President Ian Khama on 12 November 2014 while remaining in his post as Minister of Education.[12]

President Khama appointed Masisi as the Chancellor of the University of Botswana on July 5, 2017. The appointment, which was in consonance with Section 7 of the University of Botswana Act of 2008, was for a period of five years. It followed the death of former President Quett Masire, who served as the Chancellor until he died on June 22, 2017.[13]

On April 1, 2018, he was sworn in as the 5th President of Botswana.[1] After he ascended to the presidency, Khama left the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to found the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). Khama criticized Masisi for lifting the ban on elephant hunting and called his decision to appoint Masisi as his successor a "mistake".[14]

On October 13, 2018, Masisi received an honorary doctorate from the University of Botswana. Some commentators have criticized this decision, and claimed that the correct process was not followed.[15]

2019 electionsEdit

In October 2019, Masisi was re-elected as Botswana's president after the BDP faced the biggest threat to its unity in more than five decades, following Khama's move to the opposition and accusing Masisi of authoritarianism.[16] In the 2019 Botswana general election, Masisi received a 52.65% majority of the vote and received a majority of seats in the National Assembly. The Botswana 2019 Elections were highly contested for, and the main opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change lodged a litany of court challenges alleging irregularities and electoral fraud.[17]

Amongst his election pledges, he proposed lifting the ban on elephant hunting and decriminalising homosexuality.[18]

COVID-19 pandemicEdit

The COVID-19 pandemic occurred during Masisi's time in office. The President responded to the pandemic by declaring a state of emergency on March 11, 2020.[19] After the declaration, emergency powers allowed Masisi to rule by decree for a period of 18 months to September 2021, despite protests from some opposition parties.[20] In December, Botswana found evidence of a new strain, leading to a curfew being enforced from December 24, 2020. After nearly two years of the State of Public Emergency, and threats of protests from the public and opposition parties, Masisi announced he would not renews the State of Public Emergency, which saw him rule by decree for this period, also bringing an end to the curfews that had been in place by the end of September 2021. [21]

Political opinionsEdit

Masisi has been accused by some of having authoritarian views, and contributing to undermining democracy in Botswana.[22] Khama said that Masisi "stifled dissent". In an interview with the Financial Times, and that Botswana's reputation was being undermined locally and internationally, and that democracy was in decline.[23]

Masisi is in support of elephant hunting in Botswana, and believes that allowing some ivory trading would allow more funding for conservation. In 2019, he presented stools made from elephant feet to the national leaders of Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, a move that received some criticism from international media outlets.[24][25][26] Masisi reversed the ban on elephant hunting put in place by his predecessor, and removed Botswana's "Shoot to Kill" anti-poaching policy.[27]

In 2021, the Chinese Embassy to the United Kingdom indicated that Masisi supported the One China policy.[28][29]

Personal lifeEdit

 
President Masisi (right) poses with Robert L. Barchi, President of Rutgers University

In 2002 Masisi married Neo Maswabi, an accountant who later worked for the United Nations in New York and in Addis Ababa. They have a daughter.[30]

Masisi is a noted fan of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football program. While visiting the United Nations on 22 September 2018, he and his family attended the Rutgers vs. Buffalo game at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey.[31]

Masisi is colloquially referred to as "Sisiboy" among the population, a play of words on his family name.[32]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e "Botswana: Mokgweetsi Masisi takes over presidency amid opposition resurgence". Deutsche Welle. 31 March 2018. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  2. ^ "Staff corner - Profile" (PDF). UN Staff Voice. No. 6. June 2018. pp. 36–39. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Profile of His Honour Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, Vice President of The Republic of Botswana". Government of Botswana. Archived from the original on 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  4. ^ Guardian, INK Centre for Investigative Journalism, Botswana. "Who is Botswana's new President Mokgweetsi Masisi?". The M&G Online. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  5. ^ "Botswana inaugurates new president Masisi in smooth handover". France 24. Apr 1, 2018. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d "Who is Botswana's new President Mokgweetsi Masisi?". The Mail & Guardian. 2018-04-03. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  7. ^ "The Big Interview: Mokgweetsi Masisi – President of Botswana". newafricanmagazine.com. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  8. ^ "Florida State welcomes president of Botswana for official visit". Florida State University News. 2018-09-20. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  9. ^ "Botswana : investiture du nouveau président". BBC News Afrique (in French). 2018-04-01. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  10. ^ a b "Weekend Post :: The making of a president: HH Mokgweetsi Masisi". weekendpost.co.bw. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  11. ^ a b "Profile: Botswana's new president Mokgweetsi Masisi - Xinhua | English.news.cn". www.xinhuanet.com. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  12. ^ "Weekend Post :: Bolope (bootlicking) has paid for Masisi!". www.weekendpost.co.bw. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  13. ^ Online Editor (6 July 2017). "Vice President Masisi appointed UB Chancellor". University of Botswana. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Botswana's former president Ian Khama quits ruling party". IOL. Agence France-Presse. 25 May 2019.
  15. ^ Basimanebotlhe, Tsaone (12 October 2018). "Issues raised about Masisi's honorary doctorate". Mmegi. Gaborone.
  16. ^ "President Mokgweetsi Masisi holds on to power in Botswana poll". Financial Times. London. 25 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Botswana opposition challenges election result in court". Reuters. 2019-03-21. Retrieved 2021-03-21.
  18. ^ Chutel, Chutel (23 October 2019). "Botswana Election Won by President, Despite Rift with Predecessor". New York Times.
  19. ^ "PRESIDENT MASISI DECLARES STATE OF THE PUBLIC EMERGENCY REGARDING THE OUTBREAK OF COVID-19". Parliament of Botswana. 19 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Botswana Parliament votes to extend covid state of emergency to March 2021". Your Botswana. Gaborone. 19 January 2021.
  21. ^ "Masisi imposes nationwide curfew". Mmegi. 30 September 2021.
  22. ^ Basimanebotlhe, Tsaone (20 February 2020). "Botswana democracy under siege". Mmegi. Gaborone.
  23. ^ "Botswana's ex-president hits out at successor ahead of election". Financial Times. London.
  24. ^ "Botswana gives leaders stools made from elephant feet". BBC. 7 May 2019.
  25. ^ Flanagan, Jane (8 May 2019). "Ivory delegates given elephant foot stools". The Times. London.
  26. ^ "Botswana Gifts African Leaders Stools Made of Elephant Feet to Mark Resistance to Ivory Trade Ban". News18. India. 8 May 2019.
  27. ^ O'Grady, Siobhán (23 May 2019). "Botswana overturns ban on elephant hunting". The Washington Post.
  28. ^ "Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi Meets with Wang Yi", Chinese Embassy, London, UK, 19 January 2021
  29. ^ "Botswana president meets with Chinese FM on bilateral ties", China Economic Net, China, 30 September 2021
  30. ^ "Staff corner - Profile" (PDF). UN Staff Voice. No. 6. June 2018. pp. 36–39. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  31. ^ "President of Botswana Visits Rutgers | Rutgers". global.rutgers.edu. Retrieved 2021-09-09.
  32. ^ Morton, Barry. "How Masisi outsmarted Khama to take the reins in Botswana". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-02-27.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Vice President of Botswana
2014–2018
Succeeded by
Preceded by
President of Botswana
2018–present
Incumbent