The year 2018 saw the formation of a dissident group in the Botswana Democratic Party that calls itself New Jerusalem. A Setswana name (like Mosu) would probably have been more ideal but somehow New Jerusalem made it.
That the group’s formation is an attempt by former president Ian Khama to hold on to power is obvious. Less obvious is that what its current leaderlessness means with regard to Khama’s view of the presidency. Officially, New Jerusalem is still leaderless with De Beers CEO, Neo Moroka, having scotched rumours that he was earmarked for the presidency. Guma Moyo, the Tati West MP, has also been suggested as a potential leader but for now, he would be more concerned about his financial problems than leading any campaign to topple President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Unofficially, it is a well-known fact that the leader of New Jerusalem is Khama and that whoever is ultimately installed as the official leader will actually take orders from General Khama. In other words, the future New Jerusalem official leader will be what Khama wanted Masisi to be – a stooge. The enlightened grapevine says that New Jerusalem has literal mountains of cash (hard cash) and given that electoral democracy responds super-well to money, this formation could well put its man in the State House. The handler-stooge relationship between the New Jerusalem president and Khama would not have changed, meaning that the latter would become de facto president.
In the event, the new president has a change of heart and sets about reasserting his authority and independence, a serious public clash with Khama will be the natural result. When he visits Serowe to address a kgotla meeting, Khama, the Bangwato kgosi, will not attend and will also start headhunting for someone “disciplined” enough to do his bidding.
Exactly what Khama expects in a New Jerusalem official leader cannot be lost on the candidates. The question is, what will Khama do if no one steps up to the plate to sacrifice himself or herself? It might seem farfetched but he might actually end up taking up the position himself because for now at least, nobody wants it.