Botswana is still reeling in shock at the untimely passing of one of the most productive professionals of our time. At the age of 34 Moatlhodi Sebabole had risen from a young boy on an internship at Botswana Stock Exchange, to a top banking executive and macroeconomics expert deliberating at the highest levels of corporate and national fora.
Within that space of time, he had achieved what many people only dream of in their entire lifetime. Jarge as popularly known amongst his peers and colleagues would spend some time at Stanbic Botswana, before taking off – up the skies across oceans to the United Kingdom under the Commonwealth Scholarship where he obtained a Master of Science in Finance & Investment at the University of Essex.
The young intellectual would return to the University of Botswana where he had attained his Finance Bachelor’s Degree 4 years earlier, this time to teach undergraduates scholars as a lecture in the same program.
The banking industry claimed him back from academia in 2014 when First National Bank Botswana, the country’s largest commercial bank sought his expertise, rising to the position of Chief Economist for the bank and its sister Corporate & Investment version, Rand Marchat Bank.
To his family and relatives he was the loving and jolly Mo, who provided for them, took care of them, and always stood by them at all times, so he was to his friends, in addition to being their fun, adventure, and leisure plug.
To the corporate world, he was the intellectual pundit who left no stone unturned whenever on given a platform to speak, the Economist of our time, the intellectual giant who dissected macroeconomic issues with easy, demystifying finance and economics, dismantling the usual jargon to the comprehension of all those under the command of his voice.
Moatlhodi’s prowess and vision for Botswana would come out clearly whenever he took the stage to deliberate on these issues, be it in his media interviews, seminars, or conferences.
As the Chief Economist at FNB he was one of the usual speakers at the bank’s annual budget review seminar hosted few days after the budget speech, he would be there earlier than most, in his colorful signature suits ready to capture the audience, an audience made up of corporate who’s and who’s of this country: businessmen and women, captains of industries, rising young entrepreneurs, leading minds and top professionals.
His picture of a better Botswana, a Botswana with a diversified, private sector export-led – high-income economy, an economy that provided high paying decent jobs for its people, his dream and vision for that kind of a Botswana earned him a seat in the National Transformation & Strategy Team, appointed by His Excellency President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Not only was he part of the team but also the chairperson, at 32, chairing a team made up of some of the best and leading minds in Botswana, accomplished business persons, top executives, think tanks from academia, private sector, and research institutions.
He would return to the University of Botswana in September 2018 as a member of the University Council, the highest decision making body of the country’s top and premier institution of learning, where he served for 2 years, contributing immensely to the University’s strategic direction as well as serving in the Audit Committee.
Last year he was appointed to Sefalana Holdings Limited Board as a Non-Executive director where he also provided his finance expertise, serving on the Audit Committee.
In his journey up the corporate ladder, he remained Moatlhodi from Tonota, the young man who began his primary education at Madisakwana Primary before moving to Bontleng primary in the Ghetto streets of Gaborone, the young book worm who went to St Joseph College and raised the bar, the intellectual who cultivated exceptional academic performance amongst his peers.
When he rose to rub shoulders with top government officials, high ranking decision-makers, when he became the President’s strategic trustee, when he rose to speak on big platforms and shared big stages with international business leaders, he remained Moatlhodi from Tonota.
To his natives, back in the village, he remained just that, he remained their choir mate, their festive season plug and lead singer and dancer during “dikhwaere”. To remain humble in a world where success triggers egoistic and self-serving characters is such a rarity, what an exceptional human being.
To the media he was the go-to guy, the teacher and regular plug on issues of Finance and Economics, he would never disappoint, always available to share his thoughts, give his analysis on key issues of national interest.
Be it pre and post-budget speech commentary, zooming in on listed companies’ financials, deliberating on the State of the Nation Address, and sharing thoughts on key economic indicators such as inflation, monetary policy statements, GDP as released by different authorities, Moatlhodi would just be a phone call away.
At the Financial & Investment Journalism academy organized annually by First National Bank, he would be there to lecture media reporters on the complex matters of the economy. Of recent, he would say “I hope you guys are going to quote me as an Economist not Chairman of National Transformation Strategy Team” giggling in his wide signature smile.
Moatlhodi Sebabole died on the 3rd of October 2021, at Sedilega hospital after a short illness. His passing sent shockwaves across the country. If you didn’t know him from Tonota you knew him from Bontleng or St Joseph, if not you had surely come across him at UB, you had been in class with him or you had learned Finance under his tutelage as one of his students. If you didn’t know him from the corporate world you surely had seen him on TV, on FNB’s First Issues program, or listened to his financial literacy sessions on RB2.
A well-rounded individual, talented professional, humble, relatable, and ever-smiling. Moatlhodi ‘s mantle had touched many quarters, a life cut too short, but a life well-lived. It surely doesn’t matter when and how one departs this world but the legacy and impact one leaves behind.
Jarge’ s deeds will never be forgotten, his name shall live until languages fade, a truly remarkable and selfless human being of exceptional values, honor, and integrity. Rest with Lord Chief Economist, to your family we say be comforted and leave everything to the most high!