Second president of Botswana who presided over his country’s prosperity and stability, making it one of the fairest and freest in Africa

Ketumile Masire, who has died aged 91, rose from an ordinary farming background to become the second president of Botswana and was instrumental in the creation of a country ranked as one of the fairest and freest in Africa. With its continuing high per capita income and democratic electoral system, Botswana is now something of an icon in the assorted checklists of African performance and maturity. For this, Masire deserves credit.

As finance minister as well as vice-president, serving under Botswana’s inaugural president, Seretse Khama (1966-80), he was the custodian of steady financial growth in the newly independent country. Although much of this was diamond and mineral-based – leading to heavy reliance on South African companies such as De Beers – Masire understood that prosperity and stability were the foundations for a democracy with a well-educated electorate.

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