Ketumile Masire

Republic of Botswana



“The Global Leadership Foundation’s promotion of democratic governance should not be mistaken for anything other than a quest for democracy, peace, stability and socio-economic progress for all societies of the world.”

Sir Ketumile Masire,
GLF Member

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.

Activity after public politics

Since his retirement in 1998 Sir Ketumile Masire has been involved in numerous diplomatic initiatives in a number of African countries, including Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana and Swaziland. Between 1998 and 2000 he served as Chairman of the International Panel of Eminent Personalities Investigating the Circumstances Surrounding the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, and between 2000 – 2003 was the facilitator for the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue, which had the objective of bringing about a new political dispensation for the Democratic Republic of Congo, in terms of the Lusaka Ceasefire Accord.

In 2007, Sir Ketumile Masire set up the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation to promote the social and economic well being of the society of Botswana. The Foundation strives to facilitate and drive efforts to promote peace, good governance and political stability internationally; assist children with disabilities from birth; and promote innovation and alternatives in agriculture.
In May 2010 Sir Ketumile Masire led an African Union Election Observer Mission to the May 2010 Ethiopia Legislative Elections, and in October 2010 Sir Ketumile Masire co-led (with fellow GLF Member Joe Clark) a National Democratic Institute pre-election assessment mission in Nigeria, which identified a number of hurdles that could undermine a successful process surrounding the 2011 state and national polls.

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.

Memberships and Associations

  • Founder of the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation
  • Co-Chairperson of the Global Coalition for Africa
  • Board Member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation
  • Member of Club de Madrid
  • Member of the Africa Forum