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03 Dec 2018

President Mokgweetsi Masisi risks being distracted, even derailed by a fringe and shadowy secret society-like movement that calls itself New Jerusalem - if he pays any attention to them.

For all New Jerusalem’s fervent, shrill and somewhat erratic noises including going to the courts of law to challenge his legitimacy, this sub-cultural organization poses no existential threat to the president.

And for that alone, if not for any other reason, the nation would not forgive the president were he to reward this group by giving it the underserved oxygen by addressing them or other phony grievances they might have.

At the moment there are too many serious issues of national concern that need the president’s immediate and undivided attention.

Some of those issues easily make it to the crucial national security priority list – like reforming the DIS, and also revamping conservation structures and strategies.

Related to those is his requisite personal management of the economy, a task that given our economy’s current state, he cannot afford to delegate, not even for a day.

New Jerusalem is like a balloon in the air.

As currently constituted the group will at best slowly fizzle away or at worst organically implode, with a big bang.

An elementary and cardinal lesson in politics is that no serious political organisation survives for long without a leader. And New Jerusalem manifestly has no leader.

Even with a leader in place, survival is not guaranteed for organizations born out disparate grievances that are for the largest part self-centered.

For some time now, New Jerusalem has been trying to attract people into their leadership position, without success. Accordingly, even if anybody were to want to negotiate with the group, it is difficult to know with any level of certainty who really is their true representative.

Dan Moroka who they vaguely brandished as their leader in waiting has publicly rebuked them and told them that he does not share their worldview, much less their vision. 

Many of their key potential leaders are so scandal-ridden that one would not even dare to touch them with a stick.

Others form a part of a clutch that Masisi has previously defeated along the way in his path to the presidency.

More troubling for its likely adherents should be the fact that New Jerusalem has been embellishing their membership numbers especially among Members of Parliament and also exaggerating their power and influence, clearly as a short-term strategy to manufacture a false impression of their true relevance predicated on an imaginary broad base support.

It would seem like the subtext of their strategy is to create panic and anxiety among both the general public and formal structures of the ruling party so as to force a negotiated settlement with president Masisi.

This is a deliberate and clearly calculated political strategy. It is called rent-seeking.

No such rapprochement is needed or necessary. Masisi must make it clear to New Jerusalem that their chosen path will lead to political self-destruction.

New Jerusalem is living in a fanciful world. They believe that they are equal to the State President.

At the very least, they believe that it is them, and not the official opposition who are the true contenders of the state power that the president currently wields.

This is nothing short of political madness. 

In their own little universe, they see themselves as going places. By spreading an image of indispensability about themselves, they seem to genuinely believe that they have the president cornered. The truth though is that they are headed for a crash.

Officially, New Jerusalem is still flapping around looking for a substantive leader. But in a big way former president Khama looms large over the group, at least as a spiritual leader.

Other than that the group’s are disruptive efforts are clearly coordinated with Ian Khama’s ongoing insurgency, the two also have something in common – they want to have it both ways.

Like Khama, New Jerusalem wants to put the president under siege. Like Khama they also aim to extract deals for themselves from Masisi, at all cost - even if it means achieving that through spreading falsehoods.

Last week in an interview Khama gave an impression that his younger brother got more votes from other Members of Parliament in 2014 when Ian Khama heartlessly set MPs against each other to select a vice President.

At least four MPs have corroborated a story that Tskekedi got the least votes - three to be precise having been voted by Moisiraela Goya, Prince Maele and then a self vote. 

The person who got the highest votes was Nonofo Molefhi followed by Pelonomi Venson and then Masisi.

As it is, all these sought deals, if they are not an affront to democracy, then they always border on illegality or in some instances outright criminality.

Masisi’s presidency has right from the beginning been dogged by sideshows, chief of which has been Ian Khama. Having tried in vain to engage Khama who approached the table with neither clean hands nor good faith, he cannot now start engaging yet another club of self-seeking renegades.

That could be against the interests of the nation.

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