By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has officially endorsed Joshua Setipa’s candidature for the Commonwealth position of Secretary-General.

This is confirmed in the recent correspondence made by the regional bloc to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Hon Lejone Mpotjoane penned by the Executive Secretary Elias Magosi.

It reads: “I write to notify you that, at its meeting held on 11 March 2024, in Luanda, Angola, the SADC Council of Ministers considered the request from the Kingdom of Lesotho for the endorsement of the candidature of Mr Joshua Setipa,…for the position of Secretary General of the Commonwealth.

“This letter serves to inform the Kingdom of Lesotho that the SADC Council of Ministers endorsed Mr. Joshua Setipa as the candidate from the SADC region for the position of Secretary General of the Commonwealth ….”

Setipa enters the race for this coveted position. He will tour the Commonwealth’s Member States to table his proposition in a move to lobby their support to vote for him come October 2024.

The Commonwealth’s Secretary-General is selected through consensus by the Member States at a Summit. The new Secretary-General will be elected at the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which is scheduled to take place on October 21-27th, this year in Apia, Samoa.

The government is currently championing their candidate, Setipa, as the potential Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

In his recent working visit to the United Kingdom (UK), His Majesty King Letsie III endorsed Setipa to the UK government, positioning him as a strong contender for the next Secretary-General position.

If successful, he makeS history as the first Mosotho to hold this influential role within the Commonwealth of Nations, also the second African person after the Nigerian national Emeka Anyaoku who served from 1990 to 2000.

The term of the current Commonwealth’s Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland King’s Counsel (KC) is about to come to an end and there is need to identify her successor. She is the 6th Commonwealth’s Secretary-General having served two terms from 2016.

One of the candidates vying for this prestigious position is Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirly Ayorkor Botchwey.

The Commonwealth is a global organization consisting of 56 sovereign nations from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific. These Member States work together towards common objectives, including the promotion of democracy, peace, and prosperity.

The theme for the Commonwealth in 2024 is “One Resilient Common Future.”

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the London Declaration, which marks the beginning of the modern Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General’s role encompasses promoting and safeguarding the organization’s values, as well as representing it publicly. Additionally, the Secretary-General oversees the Secretariat’s staff.

The Commonwealth Secretariat holds observer status in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and is a member of the UN Peacebuilding Commission. It has been involved in various peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions globally, including in Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Afghanistan.

Currently, Setipa serves as the Senior Director of the Strategy, Portfolio, Partnerships, and Digital Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat. He has a distinguished career spanning over 30 years, with senior roles in Lesotho and internationally.

In 2018, Setipa was appointed as the inaugural Managing Director of the United Nations Bank of Technology for Least Developed Countries. Prior to this, from 2017 to 2018, he was a senior consultant at the World Bank in Washington DC, USA.

Setipa also served in His Majesty’s government, having served as the Minister of Trade and Industry from 2015 to 2017. Before this, he was the Chief Executive Officer of the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) from 2012 to 2014.

He has also served in the Cabinet of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

He holds an MBA from the University of Bradford (UK), a Graduate Diploma in International Relations and Trade from the Australian National University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration and Political Science from the National University of Lesotho.