The rise of Elias Magosi to the coveted and prestigious post of Executive Secretary of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) is a profound accomplishment for the man personally as well as for Botswana.
Obviously it raises Botswana 's profile and pedigree among community of nations and Botswana should relish the opportunity of being at the heart of whatever process of change the organisation may wish to embark on to make the organisation more relevant and responsive to the aspirations of its 340 million population.
Of course, there will be many explanations as to why Magosi and Botswana. When searching for Magosi' s rise, the first port of call is his professional demeanour. The man is humble and unassuming. I have personally as a very junior public officer had first hand experience of his self effacing and gracious diposition when I sought his attention on a personal matter when he was hardly six months in his new post of Deputy Permanent Secretary to the President. I had summoned all the courage to lodge a grievance with his office surrounding my transfer from one station to the other, which transfer I had reason to suspect was not motivated by reasons which added value to the public service.
Given the gulf between his rank and mine, I expected him to refuse to listen and throw the matter out on a technicality. But, he proved to be a rare breed, a gift to the public service. He gave this matter his utmost attention to an extent of inviting me to his office to deliver personally his thoughts on the matter. What caught my attention was the positive atmosphere making me unable to feel the gap between the powerful position he was holding and my lower rank. I would say humility has catapulted him to greater heights.
Magosi has raised the flag of Botswana and the country has now taken its rightful position among community of nations. We shall never forget the loss of national pride and dignity the country suffered, occasioned by Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi' s loss of a plum and top post in the African Union in 2017.
Interestingly, Venson-Moito' s bid for the post was masterminded by the then Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi. When leading the Magosi bid, President Masisi must have drawn from the valuable lessons obtained from Venson-Moitoi's experience. The lessons drawn must have come handy and somewhat shaped the character and content of the Magosi bid. So, without any shadow of doubt, credit must go to the President for availing his time and national resources to sponsor the Botswana bid. The President’s efforts paid dividends and Botswana got the outcome she desperately needed. Now, we have regained our national pride and dignity on the international stage.
Magosi' s bid could not have come at a better time. It coincided with the rise of a spirit of national despondency occasioned by developments surrounding the prosecution of the war efforts against the monster called COVID-19 and its concomitant deaths. COVID-19 laid bare our vulnerability as a nation, causing into play the blame game while straining our national cohesion in the process. Magosi's victory could usher in a sense of national renewal, fixing broken hearts and binding wounds.
On the SADC assignment, I have no doubt Magosi would be equal to the task and I am sure he is guaranteed the nation's full and undivided support. He is no stranger to SADC having had a stint at the organisation as a director - Human resources division. He brings to the organisation a wealth of experience gathered over the years both in the public service and the private sector. His job will not be a walk in the park. SADC has accomplished a lot in its 40 years of existence but a lot more unfinished business awaits his attention. He has to hit the ground running.
There are questions regarding the ability of SADC to rise to the challenge. Magosi will be leading an organisation that needs to sharpen its focus especially on tackling poverty, unemployment, under-employment, inequalities and social deprivation. These are bread and butter matters requiring urgent attention and they cannot wait.
At his disposal is the SADC 205O Vision, an ambitious agenda envisioning a peaceful, inclusive, middle to high income industrialised region where all have to enjoy benefits from exploitation of resources. Magosi, a Motswana, has an opportunity to facilitate not only the existing agenda but also to facilitate a rethinking of strategy to give SADC a new lease on life. On him rests the fortunes of 340 million people and Botswana is watching him and fully stands behind him.
*Tshwarelo Hosia is a historian and former private secretary