Sir Ketumile Masire - Biographical Information
President, Republic of Botswana 1980-1998
Sir Ketumile Masire was Botswana’s second President, serving 18 years from 1980-1998. Prior to this, he was a leading figure in the independence movement and then the new government, and played a crucial role in facilitating and protecting Botswana’s steady financial growth and development.
Having trained as a teacher, Ketumile Masire took up farming in 1956 and journalism in 1958, becoming the editor of the Botswana Democratic Party Newspaper “Therisanyo” in 1962. In 1966 he became a Member of Parliament and later Vice President and Minister of Finance and Development Planning.
In 1980 he succeeded the late Sir Seretse Khama as the second President of the Republic of Botswana, and in 1984 won the Presidential elections under the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. As President, Sir Ketumile Masire was responsible for the introduction of comprehensive social service programmes which significantly improved Botswana’s education, communications and health indicators. Sir Ketumile Masire’s government was able to increase nutrition levels in the country during the 1980s, despite Botswana experiencing a severe drought. During his tenure of office, he was Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Co-Chairperson of the Global Coalition for Africa. He also became the first Vice-Chairman of the Organization of African Unity in 1991.
Sir Ketumile Masire has received Honorary Doctorates from University of Botswana, St John University, De Paul University, Williams College, Sussex University, University of Port Elizabeth, Ohio University, and Carlton College. In 1989 he was awarded the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger, the Grand Counsellor of the Royal Order of Sobhuza II (Swaziland), Honorary Knighthood of the Grand Cross of Saint Michael and Saint George (UK), and the Order of the Welwitschia (Namibia). He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991.