Masisi in 2018
|5th President of Botswana|
|Assumed office |
1 April 2018
|Vice President||Slumber Tsogwane|
|Preceded by||Ian Khama|
|Chairman of the Botswana Democratic Party|
1 April 2017 – 4 April 2018
|Preceded by||Ian Khama|
|Succeeded by||Slumber Tsogwane|
|8th Vice President of Botswana|
12 November 2014 – 1 April 2018
|Preceded by||Ponatshego Kedikilwe|
|Succeeded by||Slumber Tsogwane|
|Member of Parliament for|
Moshupa / Manyana
2009 – 1 April 2018
|Preceded by||Maitlhoko Mooka|
|Succeeded by||Karabo Gare|
Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi
21 July 1962
|Political party||Botswana Democratic Party|
|Alma mater||University of Botswana|
Florida State University
Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi (born 21 July 1962) is the fifth and current President of Botswana. He served as the 8th Vice President of Botswana from 12 November 2014 until April 1 2018. He was Member of Parliament in The National Assembly for the Moshupa-Manyana consituency from 2009 until 2018.
Early life and education
Mokgweetsi Masisi is the son of Edison Masisi (1923–2003), the long-time MP for Moshupa and many-time cabinet member. The younger Masisi grew up in Gaborone, attending Thornhill Primary School and Maru A Pula School. One of his three brothers, Tshelang, was long-time MP for Francistown West, while another is a retired army general. He also has a sister, Phadi.
In school he competed in soccer and tennis, 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. He has taken part in several South African films.
During the 1980s Masisi became a high school social studies teacher for several years after graduating from the University of Botswana in 1984 in English and History. He then 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. Following graduation, he was employed by UNICEF in Botswana.
Masisi unsuccessfully sought the nomination of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to stand in Moshupa constituency in the 2004 general election. However, he obtained the BDP nomination for the same seat prior to the 2009 general election and won the seat. 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. Masisi became Minister of Education and Skills Development in an acting capacity in April 2014. 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. 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.
President Khama appointed Masisi as the Chancellor of the University of Botswana on 5 July 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 22 June 2017.
On 1 April 2018, he was sworn in as the 5th President of Botswana. After he ascended to the presidency, former president Ian 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".
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.
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 Masisi's predecessor Ian Khama's move to the opposition and accusing Masisi of authoritarianism. In the 2019 Botswana general election, Masisi received an outright majority of 52.65% of the vote, and received a majority of seats in the National Assembly. Amongst his election pledges, he proposed lifting the ban on elephant hunting and decriminalising homosexuality.
Masisi has been accused by some of having authoritarian views, and contributing to undermining democracy in Botswana. This includes former president, Ian Khama, who said that Masisi "stifled dissent". In an interview with the Financial Times, Khama said Botswana's reputation is being undermined locally and internationally, and that the democracy is in decline. When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in 2020, emergency powers allowed Masisi to rule by decree for a period of six months.
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. Masisi reversed the ban on elephant hunting put in place by his predecessor, and removed Botswana's "Shoot to Kill" anti-poaching policy.
Masisi is colloquially referred to as "Sisiboy" among the population, a play of words on his family name.
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- "Weekend Post :: Bolope (bootlicking) has paid for Masisi!". www.weekendpost.co.bw. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
- Online Editor (6 July 2017). "Vice President Masisi appointed UB Chancellor". University of Botswana. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
- "Botswana's former president Ian Khama quits ruling party". IOL. Agence France-Presse. 25 May 2019.
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- "President Mokgweetsi Masisi holds on to power in Botswana poll". Financial Times. London. 25 October 2019.
- Chutel, Chutel (23 October 2019). "Botswana Election Won by President, Despite Rift with Predecessor". New York Times.
- Basimanebotlhe, Tsaone (20 February 2020). "Botswana democracy under siege". Mmegi. Gaborone.
- "Botswana's ex-president hits out at successor ahead of election". Financial Times. London.
- Konopo, Joel (30 April 2020). "Botswana: Censorship is not the cure for Covid-19". Daily Maverick. Johannesburg.
- "Botswana gives leaders stools made from elephant feet". BBC. 7 May 2019.
- Flanagan, Jane (8 May 2019). "Ivory delegates given elephant foot stools". The Times. London.
- "Botswana Gifts African Leaders Stools Made of Elephant Feet to Mark Resistance to Ivory Trade Ban". News18. India. 8 May 2019.
- O'Grady, Siobhán (23 May 2019). "Botswana overturns ban on elephant hunting". The Washington Post.
- Morton, Barry. "How Masisi outsmarted Khama to take the reins in Botswana". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-02-27.