Home NewsLocal News Setipa’s Commonwealth candidature a milestone for Lesotho: Mpotjoane   

Setipa’s Commonwealth candidature a milestone for Lesotho: Mpotjoane   

by Lesotho Times
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Letsatsi Selikoe 

AS the race for the election of the next Commonwealth secretary general gains momentum, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Lejone Mpotjoane, is stamping up for Lesotho’s ambitious candidate: Joshua Phoho Setipa. 

Mr Setipa, a seasoned veteran of international organisations, is vying for the coveted post of secretary general (SG), bringing with him the hopes and aspirations of the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. 

At the next Commonwealth Heads of State and Government (CHOGM) summit in Samoa from 21 – 27 October 2024, the leaders will select and appoint the next Commonwealth SG. 

They will take this decision, in accordance with the Agreed Memorandum on the Establishment and Functions of the Commonwealth Secretariat (revised 2022) and the principle of regional rotation. 

The successful candidate will serve as the seventh Commonwealth secretary general, and this is exactly where Mr Setipa sees himself. 

Candidates for the Commonwealth secretary generalship must possess proven leadership and managerial abilities, extensive experience in international relations, strong diplomatic and communication skills. Candidates must also hold the nationality of a Commonwealth member country, which Lesotho is, and be expressly endorsed by their respective governments.  Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s government had long endorsed Mr Setipa. 

According to the Commonwealth, the position of secretary general is one of great importance requiring the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, and a firm commitment to the core values and principles enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter. 

Luckily for Mr Setipa, he is already part of the organisation’s structures, as he is currently serving as the Senior Director, Strategy, Portfolio, Partnerships and Digital Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat. He has also worked for other international organisations including the United Nations and World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

Minister Mpotjoane expressed confidence in Mr Setipa’s ability to uphold the values of the Commonwealth and to discharge the role of SG competently. 

He said he also had confidence in Mr Setipa’s ability to represent the interests of the Southern African region on the global stage. 

He praised Mr Setipa’s experience and commitment to the Commonwealth, noting that he is well-positioned to succeed outgoing SG, Patricia Scotland KC. 

“Setipa’s candidacy is a milestone for Lesotho, highlighting the nation’s growing presence on the international scene. While he faces competition from other strong candidates, his unique position as the Southern African region’s candidate may give him a strategic advantage”, Mr Mpotjoane said. 

The West African region’s Chief Emeka Anyaoku is the only African SG to date. 

According to Minister Mpotjoane, Mr Setipa’s candidacy represents a potential shift in the balance of power, as he seeks to bring the perspective and priorities of the Southern region to the forefront of the Commonwealth’s agenda. 

Chief Anyaoku, now aged 91 is a Nigerian who served as SG from 1990 to 2000. 

Mr Mpotjoane said while he was confident Mr Setipa will make the cut, he was not blind to the fact that he faced stiff competition from two candidates from Ghana and Gambia. 

Ghana’s candidate for the position is its foreign minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.  Gambia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Mamadou Tangara, is that country’s candidate. 

Still, Mr Mpotjoane speculated the candidature of the two would potentially split the West African vote, giving Mr Setipa the edge. Southern Africa also has more countries in the Commonwealth than West Africa.   

“The Southern region has spoken, and they have chosen Mr Setipa as their candidate. This is no small feat, as he faces stiff competition from two formidable opponents in Ghana and Gambia, both respected members of the Commonwealth West African region,” Mr Mpotjoane said. 

“But that could also be an advantage for Setipa, as Western African countries’ votes will be split between the Ghanian and Gambian candidates, allowing our own to sail through.” 

Mr Setipa’s campaign for the SG post is not just about one candidate or one nation, but rather represents a broader movement towards greater inclusivity and diversity in the Commonwealth’s leadership. 

As the organization continues to grapple with issues of representation and equity, Mr Setipa’s candidacy is a powerful symbol of the Southern region’s desire for greater influence and visibility. 

As the election for the top Commonwealth post approaches, the eyes of the world will be on Lesotho, Mr Setipa, and Southern Africa. 

It is indeed a momentous opportunity not just for Lesotho, but for the entire region, to make its voice heard on the global stage. 

The Lesotho government first announced its nomination of Mr Setipa for the Commonwealth SG post in January this year. Mr Setipa is the first Mosotho to be pushed for the coveted post. He has been campaigning vigorously accross the Commonwealth. 

The fact that the Southern African block has more countries in the Commonwealth than either West Africa or East Africa should put him in good stead to clinch the influential post, should he succeed in swaying other regions to support him. 

The Commonwealth is an international association of 56 mostly former British colonies from Africa, Asia, America, Europe and the Pacific. 

These Member States advance common objectives and shared goals of prosperity, advancement of democracy and peace. 

The Commonwealth SG is charged with promoting, and protecting the organisation’s values, and representing the Commonwealth publicly. The SG is also responsible for overseeing the secretariat’s staff. 

The Commonwealth Secretariat has observer status in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. 

It is also a member of the UN Peacebuilding Commission and has participated in various peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions around the world including Zimbabwe, Uganda and Afghanistan. 

Mr Setipa has an illustrious career spanning over 20 years having served in Lesotho in different capacities and having held senior positions both locally and internationally. 

He was appointed the first managing director of the United Nations Bank of Technology for Least Developed Countries in 2018. 

From 2017 to 2018 he was a senior consultant at the World Bank in Washington DC in the United States. 

He had also served His Majesty’s government as the Minister of Trade and Industry from 2015 to 2017. 

Prior to this, he served as the chief executive officer of the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) from 2012 to 2014. 

Mr Setipa also served as the Senior Advisor to the Director-General of the World Trade Organization for over six years. 

He holds: 

1.  Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom. 

2.   Graduate Diploma in International Relations and Trade from the Australian National University 

3.   Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration and Political Science from the National University of Lesotho. 


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