A dark cloud fell over the Francistown community last week when one of its pragmatic legislators succumbed to a long illness after suffering a stroke following post-surgery complications.
Although he had, in the past, been in and out of hospital, news of the Francistown West legislator, Tshelang Walter Masisi’s death came as a shock to many people within the Francistown community and the Botswana Democratic Party.
Affectionately called TW by his electorates, the veteran politician passed away at Bokamoso Private Hospital in Gaborone on Wednesday morning.
Born in a political family, TW is the son of the late Member of Parliament for Moshupa, Edison Setlhomo Masisi, and is elder brother to Mokgweetsi Masisi, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.
In an interview with the Sunday Standard, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) politician and former Member of Parliament for Francistown South, Vain Mamela, described Masisi as a humble, down to earth, hard worker and cheerful person who cared much about the plight of the underprivileged.
“I may have had political differences with the late Masisi, but I have to admit that he was a very good politician who had the interests of his voters at heart. He has contributed immensely to the development of his constituency and Francistown at large. He is a great loss to our politics and the people of Francistown,” said Mamela who was ousted from parliament by TW in the 1999 general election.
Mamela said that the first time he knew Masisi was in the early 80s when he worked for a furniture shop in Francistown.
Francistown South Member of Parliament Wynter Mmolotsi said Masisi’s death marks the beginning of the end of a generation of politicians who were genuinely in politics for the interest of the people.
“Before joining politics he owned so many businesses and was living a good life. All these dissipated and now all he had was his constituency and his people. People join politics to eat but TW joined to relentlessly serve the people of Francistown far away from his home village of Moshupa. He was a truly godsend,” said Mmolotsi.
He said that long before he (Mmolotsi) joined politics, Masisi was a father figure to him and a mentor, adding that even during his troubles at the BDP before defecting to the Botswana Movement for Democracy, Masisi had always been by his side. He said that nowadays it is very rare to find politicians of Masisi’s calibre.
“Masisi always stood by me during my troubles with the BDP and he is the only BDP politician who never proposed that I should return to the BDP after my defection. During the country’s historic public service strike, Masisi stood by the disgruntled workers and even went to the extent of donating a beast for them to slaughter and eat. Despite my political differences with him, his unconditional love and humility was beyond measure. He will be greatly missed,” he said.
Botswana Democratic Party politician, Peter Ngoma also described Masisi’s death as a blow to the party as he was a hard worker and a well seasoned politician.
“It is sad that we lost someone of Masisi’s calibre. He was such a down to earth person who was always jolly. I got to know Masisi during the 2004 general elections,” he said.
Ngoma, who twice lost against Masisi in the BDP primary elections of 2003 and 2008 in the Francistown West constituency, said that the late legislator was a unique character who had a very good sense of humour.
Former BDP Northern Region Chairperson, Botho Ntirang, also expressed grief over the death of Masisi saying that the party had lost a veteran politician who had interest of the party close to his heart. He added that Masisi was a man who mingled easily with people in his constituency and was down to earth.
“He would go and mingle with his people even in the shebeens and converse over a variety of issues. He always made people laugh through his great sense of humour. He was also an independent thinker who expressed his views openly without any fear. He never personalized issues,” added Mmolotsi.
Kgosi Gunny Moses of Monarch location also said Masisi was a well cultured leader who had a cordial relationship with chiefs.
“What I loved most about him is that he was very frank and open. He has contributed immensely to the development of Monarch location. He was a well principled man who was very fond of Setswana culture,” he said.
Manko Akanyang, a resident of Monarch West which falls under TW’s constituency said Masisi was a humble politician who cared much about the underprivileged and had the interest of the poor and the old at heart.
“He was a hands-on person who was not embarrassed to be seen around in the company of the poor or the underprivileged. Most of the time he would visit the elderly people, the disabled and the poor to listen to their grievances,” she said.
Kgosietsile Dube of Botsalano Ward in Kgaphamadi location also expressed his grief over the loss of Masisi saying that he contributed immensely to the welfare of Francistown residents.
“Masisi did not look down upon the poor and he was very approachable. He listened to most of our grievances and took action. He was an honest politician,” he said.
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Pono Moatlhodi, is quoted in the government owned press as saying Masisi’s death had robbed the BDP and Batswana in general of a committed and hard working politician.
He is further quoted saying TW was friendly, frank and humble but was not afraid of differing with party elders if he believed he had a genuine point.
Masisi was elected to parliament in 1999. Before then he was a specially elected councillor in Francistown.
At the time of his death, he was BDP chief whip in parliament. A memorial service for the late TW will held in Francistown on Tuesday.
At the time of going to press, funeral arrangements had not yet been concluded.