The Constable who became a General

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 13 January 2015   |   By Dr Jeff Ramsay
The Constable who became a General

The late Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe was one of the founding figures of Botswana.

His record of public service dates back to his commissioning as a Constable in the then Bechuanaland Protectorate Police in 1960. In the decades since he has distinguished himself in many role - including founding BDF Commander, a respected International Statesman and doyen of local Sports development - as well as Botswana's sixth Vice President.

In all of his areas of achievement, the late Mompati Merafhe consistently demonstrated a dedication to national service coupled with an abiding passion for development and progress.

During his years in the Police, Merafhe used to traverse the length and breadth of Botswana, serving as a prosecutor. In the process of moving from one area to another he interacted with people from different walks of life. In his later years he would attribute this early experience as having been critical in shaping his understanding of popular aspirations, while deepening his own sense of national vision.

As the founding Commander of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) in 1977, he moulded from scratch what many others would later describe as one of the developing world's most disciplined and professional armies. In 1988 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.

Upon his retirement from the BDF in 1989, he was Specially Elected as a Member of Parliament and appointed by the then President Sir Ketumile Masire as his Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.

In 1994 he was elected to Parliament as the Member for Mahalapye (now Mahalapye West), a seat he held up until his retirement in 2012.

Also in 1994 he was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, a portfolio he continuously held until 2008, in the process emerging as Botswana's quintessential diplomat and global statesman. During this period he further served with distinction as member and chairperson of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) from 1995 until 2002 and as president in the Office of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States from 2003 until 2004.

In April 2008 and again in October 2009 he was endorsed by Parliament to serve as Vice President.

His Honour has also been known within and beyond Botswana as a driver of local sports development through, among other things, his pioneering of the Olympic movement in the land. He has served as chairperson of Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) as well as Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC).

For the people of Mahalapye, Merafhe was a devoted MP who has worked tirelessly for his constituency as well as the nation as a whole.

In all of his endeavours the late former Vice President consistently exuded a sense of "Botswana first", which defined him throughout his entire career.

During his career Lt. General Merafhe was the recipient of many domestic and international honours including Botswana's highest honour - Naledi ya Botswana in 2011. A true statesman and servant of this nation, Mompati Sebogodi Merafhe was born in Serowe on the 6th of June 1936. He leaves behind a wife and five children (2 boys and 3 girls)

Dr Jeff Ramsay
Government spokesperson.

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