'Here I Am to Serve' (allAfrica.com)

| September 7, 2015

Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba has set her eyes on a new challenge, she has thrown her hat in the ring for the Commonwealth Secretary generalship. Her insatiable appetite for new challenges is amazing. When she headed the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) as Chief Executive Officer, one would have thought she had reached her summit, a big NO!

Soon after leaving a lucrative BEDIA leadership role, she rewrote history books being the first Motswana to be appointed Deputy Commonwealth Secretary General which she served for two terms.

Now she is in the race against three contenders from the Caribbean for the Commonwealth top post.

True to the late British ironlady Margaret Thatcher’s words that; if you want something said, ask a man and if you want something done, ask a woman, Masekgoa’s readiness to serve emanates from having worked in the Commonwealth for the last six years at a senior level.

In an interview, she said the service that she also provided to her country across different sectors and different timelines and across different levels, at management, executive level and a spectrum of interests at private sector, business and government of Botswana, positions her well. “The readiness to serve is a preposition I can defend,” she said.

Mrs Masire-Mwamba says she also believes in listening. “Listening to a diverse membership is very important and no one state should be heard than other member states.”

She says the 53-member organisation has within it, 30 small states and by virtue of economic power and positioning, there might be situations that small states may wonder if their voices may carry as much weight.

Thus, everything that is done at the Commonwealth including the election process is done through one equal vote by each country.

She believes in listening because that is acknowledging where others are hurting as there are some smaller states facing the brunt of climate change like the Maldives where the sea levels are rising and challenges of global warming are upon the country.

Ms Masire-Mwamba’s pillar in this contest is also readiness to lead. She says when one listens to a diverse network, she should have the backbone to lead. For example, she says “there might be 53 different points being expressed but at some point a decision has to be made and at some point one will make difficult and uncomfortable decisions.”

Ms Masire-Mwamba says if one understands the organisation better like herself and the pressure; that can assist in decision making and that readiness to say this is the direction we should be headed in.

During the time she was deputy secretary general at the Commonwealth, she was responsible for four portfolios.

The first portfolio was the political wing which was responsible for looking at common trademarks of Commonwealth such as election monitoring, relationships, opposition and government and leadership where they engaged a lot with political leadership throughout the Commonwealth as well as supporting political processes particularly challenges of democracy and how member states respond to the challenges.

She says the other portfolio was the Rule of Law which focused on constitutional democracy, where member states who were updating and reviewing their constitutions.

As deputy secretary general, she also had direct responsibility for youth development which allowed her to engage with young people throughout the commonwealth and to interrogate the challenges they face.

The forth portfolio, she says, was the human rights which was the most challenging in the sense that across commonwealth there are various constitutions of which some have provisions that may have not taken the evolving human rights landscape.

Ms Masire-Mwamba says through these portfolios, they were assisting member states through capacity building and technical assistance and assisting members to become more accountable.

She says the Commonwealth does not give money or grants, and does not have an economic power nor is it not a treaty based organisation.

“The role of the Commonwealth is to give member states an opportunity to share a pool of interest, a common pool of expertise and a common pool of exposure so that if a country in the Pacific such as Solomon Islands is having a challenge, a country like Botswana can assist,” she reckons.

She sees a bright and sparkling future in the Commonwealth as the relevant organisation with a vision to continue to work towards overcoming newer threats and challenges member states face.

“We need to revitalize, rejuvenate the organisation, and therefore we need to do more on how best we can do that,” she reckons.

She says Commonwealth is an organisation that has a future precisely because a world order demands now that there is no longer the old order of a polarised north, south, east and west.

“We will continue on dependence and relying more on each other because we do not know where the solutions of the world problems will come from,” she says.

She notes the need for members of global community to continue to seek an opportunity to seat down together and share experiences to interrogate how they are going on a number of issues and support each other in response to the issues.

Mmasekgoa, 55, was born in Kanye and is the second daughter of second president of Botswana Sir Ketumile Masire. She is married to Trevor Mwamba, with three children.

She completed most of her schooling in Gaborone and went to United Kingdom for tertiary education.

“I did BA in engineering, electronics and physics. By training I did a little bit of engineering and science, so I keep saying that one is more the study of matter and the other one is problem solving and how you apply that matter, so the two were related,” she says.

She describes herself as a simple person, but a person who takes their duty and obligation seriously. “I don’t think I am a serious person from a persona point of view but I believe that I do take my field and areas of interest and concern seriously,” she adds.

“My persona comes across as being a serious person because I have a serious approach to my matters of interest and engagement, but I am a very light hearted person and easy to know and relate to.”

She says as a Botswana candidate this allows 53 other member states to rally around and endorse Botswana’s nomination and support the nomination.

“A victory for me is a victory for Botswana and confidence for Botswana,” she reckons.

Source : BOPA

Category: Governance

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