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' Calls to honour Dingake justified

14 Apr 2024

Government has noted pleas by Batswana to honour Dr Michael Dingake’s legacy. This was said by Minister for State President Mr Kabo Morwaeng at the funeral of the former Robben Island political prisoner in Gaborone yesterday.

Mr Morwaeng said the calls were justified looking at the political sacrifices of Dr Dingake.

“He was one of Botswana’s most distinguished stalwards and a lover of democracy. He was also a lifelong democrat in spirit, conviction and deeds and that is why he continued living for democracy even after prison,” he said.

Mr Morwaeng said Dr Dingake’s sacrifices in the emancipation of the Southern African region from minority rules should serve as an inspiration to regional nations each time they went to the polls.

“It is a pity that democracy is backsliding in the continent,” he said. He also said Botswana’s democracy as laid down by the likes of Dr Dingake should be embraced as a collective heritage by all, ruling or opposition.

“It is in that light that government is committed to conducting the coming elections constitutionally to honour such a legacy. I am personally privileged to have rubbed shoulders with him and he was a teacher to many of us on ethical leadership,” he said.

Liberation icon and fellow Robben Island ex-inmate, Mr Mac Maharaj described Dr Dingake as a gentle giant who committed himself to a lifetime of struggle since 1952 when he joined the African National Congress (ANC). Mr Maharaj described Dr Dingake as a foot soldier who demonstrated in spirit and practice that unity between Botswana and South Africa was entwined.

“He never believed that one could be free if others were not free. He understood the interconnection between the African continent and the world, and that different cultural identities should not build walls around people, but enrich them,” he said.

Mr Maharaj also said Dr Dingake was a believer that progress in human society must be grounded in humanity, adding that he was a trustworthy member of the ANC and a member of the underground cell led by Dr Nelson Mandela.

“I personally met him when our movement embraced the necessity for an armed struggle, when freedom fighters had to live with the reality of a death penalty. He gave up a well paying job of 45 Pounds to sacrifice for the struggle which mind-boggled us at the time,” he said.

Mr Dumelang Saleshando, who is the leader of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), said Dr Dingake had the shortest term of all BCP presidents, but made the most impact.

He also urged government to honour his wish to reform Botswana democracy such as counting ballots at the polls and the use of indelible ink. Other speakers at the funeral included Ms Vickie Taivo ya Taivo, wife of Mr Andimba Taivo ya Taivo, a Namibian national and fellow struggle icon in the fight against apartheid. Dr Dingake is survived by his wife, seven siblings, four adult children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Olekantse Sennamose

Location : GABORONE

Event : Funeral

Date : 14 Apr 2024