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Setipa vies for Commonwealth’s top job


Staff Reporter

In a historic move, the government has thrown its weight behind Joshua Phoho Setipa, making him the first Southern African candidate to run for the prestigious position of Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations through the Lesotho High Commission in London, where the Commonwealth Secretariat is also based, has embarked on an ambitious campaign, rallying support for Setipa’s candidacy from fellow Commonwealth member states.

In a diplomatic note addressed to Commonwealth member states, the ministry stated: “…the Kingdom of Lesotho presents its compliments to all Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Commonwealth Members and has the honour to advise that the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho has decided to present the candidature of Mr Joshua Phoho Setipa for the post of Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.”

Setipa, currently the Senior Director for Strategy, Portfolio, Partnerships, and Digital Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat, is no stranger to high-stakes leadership roles.

As the first Managing Director of the United Nations (UN) Technology Bank and holding significant positions, including Assistant Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), former Minister of Trade and Industry, and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), Setipa brings over 25 years of diverse and impactful experience in international trade, public policy, and strategic management.

Lesotho contends that Setipa’s extensive service, marked by complex and impactful responsibilities on national, regional, and multilateral fronts, makes him an exceptional candidate for the position.

The campaign kickstarts ahead of the decision that will be made at the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled to take place in Apia, Samoa, in October this year.

The incoming Secretary-General will succeed Patricia Scotland KC, who has held the position since 2016.

Notably, the Secretary-General is nominated by Commonwealth leaders and can serve a maximum of two terms, each lasting four years.

If successful, Setipa would be the seventh Secretary-General and the second from Africa, following Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria who held the position from 1990 to 2000.

The Secretary-General’s role is pivotal, involving the promotion and protection of Commonwealth values, public representation, and effective management of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Commonwealth, with 56 independent and equal member states, transcends its historical roots, inviting any country to join its family based on shared goals of development, democracy, and peace, as enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter.

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