The Truth: Why Masire family had to bury on a Thursday

03rd July 2017
President Masire was laid to rest on Thursday Source:

Why Sir KetumileMasire was buried on Thursday last week instead of this past weekend remains shrouded in mystery and inexplicable secrecy.

Yet somewhere in this rubble of concocted information is a combination of what seems to be calculated lies, plain deceit and a quest to sound polite and politically correct.

On Monday morning last week, three days before Masire’s burial, Tebogo Carter Masire told a television audience that no one had particularly made a request for Botswana’s second President to be buried on Thursday. On that same Monday, the blood and breast brothers to the former president told a different story – that the Thursday burial was decided at the request of President Ian Khama.

On that Monday where Carter was speaking in a Gaborone press conference alongside State Presidency minister Eric Molale as well as Foreign Affairs minister PelonomiVenson-Moitoi, The Midweek Sun was learning from Sir Ketumile’s brothers Basimanyana and Bontlogile, as well as from Motswakgakala Sealetsa - the family’s appointed spokesperson on funeral arrangements - that the request to bury Sir Ketumile on Thursday came specifically from Khama.

And while Sealetsa took a more diplomatic route in stating the reasons for the choice of Thursday for the burial, the brothers on the other hand, in two separate interviews, were blunt in stating that it was at the express request of the sitting president. Why Carter, Molale and Venson-Moitoi were at pains to deny Khama’s or government’s role in the decision remains a subject of wide speculation.

Basimanyana, who says he was present at a hurriedly arranged family gathering that decided the burial day on Friday morning, said they had actually not even started discussions on the burial date when President Khama arrived very early the morning after Sir Ketumile’s passing, requesting that the family consider avoiding a Saturday burial because he already had plans for that day and would not make it for the burial.

Basimanyana, an ardent farmer whose sense of humour resembles that of his eldest brother Sir Ketumile, confirmed Khama’s request to The Midweek Sun. “The president was here first thing in the morning on Friday, making a plea that he would not be available this weekend,” Basimanyana revealed ahead of the funeral. On what reasons the president specifically gave, the fifth-born in the Masire family of six disclosed a story different to what had already been reported last week – that the president said he would be engaged in other government’s official business that he could not postpone.

“He stated that he would be having an engagement that will see him host some officials from outside Botswana – some heads of state he said; that it is something that had already been planned and cannot be changed,” Basimanyana told The Midweek Sun. Earlier that day, The Monitor had been fashionable, reporting that according to third president Festus Mogae, the family had been told Khama would be busy, at which he speculated that he would be at some quad-biking event.

Basimanyana could neither confirm nor deny the quad-biking story, only saying he was constrained to respond to The Monitor’s revelation that had evidently angered the state. He did however reveal that moments after Khama’s request on the Friday morning, Mogae also arrived to offer condolences, upon which they informed him of their agreement with Khama.

In a separate interview, the sixth and last-born of Sir Ketumile’s siblings, Bontlogile, reiterated that it was President Khama who made the request for Thursday, saying he only knows the president had said he would be busy. “You ask me questions I am uncomfortable to answer. I cannot comment on the specifics of his reasons except to say he already has commitments for the weekend. You must remember that we do not own Quett, he belongs to the state, and this being a State Funeral, we as a family had no reason to object when the Head of State made what we felt was a genuine plea,” Bontlogile stated.

At the main GooMotebejane kgotla, about five minutes away from where Masire was laid to rest just in front of his residence, a spokesperson of the family, Sealetsa, also confirmed that a request was made from Government, contrary to Carter’s press conference assertion that no one had made the request. Saying he was speaking on behalf of the family, Carter instead said the Thursday burial was just a decision of the family after debating among themselves on the matter.

But Sealetsa was not as forthcoming with information as the two brothers. “I can only speculate that Government’s reasons revolve around the fact that they already have more pressing engagements this weekend. You will know that this is the weekend of Sir Seretse Khama Day and perhaps in Government’s thinking, we cannot be still in mourning or keeping Masire’s body in a weekend we ought to be celebrating. And I am saying it is just my thinking,” Sealetsa stressed.

What comes out clearly from Kanye however, is that the family was indeed cornered into burying their loved one on Thursday. Yet two government ministers, as well as Carter, denied anyone else’s involvement outside the family, even going to the extent of saying journalists should be respectful and not tell lies to push their newspaper sales.

In the midst of all this, it becomes clear that Government did not wish that anybody spills the beans on why the chosen burial day was Thursday. The nation can only continue to guess. “It shocked me to learn that the funeral will be on Thursday. But then it struck me that maybe the president did not want Masire’s burial to coincide with Sir Seretse Khama day. Now that I am thinking of it, I think Khama was never going to allow his father’s birthday celebrations coincide with the burial of Masire,” one observer speculated. His mate added: “Yes, it is no secret these people never loved Quett and have never liked the idea of him being President. There is no way they could want his burial date to fall on the same date as Sir Seretse Khama Day.”

Speculation is that the Masire family had wished that their father be buried this past Saturday.

On the same Saturday however, President Ian Khama was spotted busy at the Race-For-Rhinos event at the Makgadikgadi near Sowa, an aeroplane racing event he attends religiously on an annual basis. It was attended by a lot of foreign nationals who brought with them over a hundred aircrafts, and President Khama was seen actively involved in the activities, bringing conclusion to wide speculation among Batswana, who said Khama would not let Masire’s funeral stand in the way of his attendance at the Race-For-Rhinos event. On the same weekend he was at the event, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi left the country to represent Botswana at the African Unions’s (AU) AIDS Watch Africa Heads of State and Government meeting scheduled for Ethiopia this week.

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