The founders of an emerging Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) faction styled New Jerusalem are struggling to identify a leader to take them to the promised land after democrats earmarked for the responsibility have declined the invitation, The Patriot on Sunday has established.
The faction, which information trickling in shows that it was formed around July this year, has been turned down by De Beers Executive and former Minister of Trade and Industry Neo Moroka, when they tried to lobby him to challenge President Mokgweetsi Masisi at the BDP special congres in 2019 ahead of the general elections later the same year.
On Thursday Moroka, who is currently the Chairman of De Beers Botswana, vehemently denied that he has been approached to challenge Masisi for the presidency. “Around August this year, someone informed me that there are some people who want me to become the next president of Botswana. I told him, it is not possible because I am not active in politics anymore. He asked me if I would be interested if I am approached. I made it clear to him that I am not interested,” Moroka revealed, refusing to identify the person who was clearly picking his brains about being approached with the offer.
Moroka, who lost to John Toto of Botswana National Front (BNF) in the 2009 general elections, said he made a conscious decision that he is going to retire from active politics. “I work for De Beers Botswana which is in partnership with the Government of Botswana and company policy does not allow employees to be involved in active politics,” he said.
Asked if he has ever attended meetings addressed by the New Jerusalem, Moroka who was the Minister of Trade and Industry from 2004 to 2009, said he does not even know the faces behind the faction. “And I am not interested in knowing them and their agenda. I believe that we have a very capable President (in Masisi) and we must all rally behind him,” he declared.
The denial by Moroka has brought to three senior BDP members who have refused to be associated with the new faction. The Patriot on Sunday is reliably informed that initially the faction wanted Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi to lead them, but he refused to be associated with them, also choosing to pledge his allegiance and rally behind President Masisi.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has also distanced herself from the faction, revealing that she will be retiring from active politics and not seeking re-election next year, to focus on her consultancy firm.
Highly placed sources within the New Jerusalem have intimated that they are pinning their hopes on the outgoing Member of Parliament for Nkange, Edwin Jenamiso Batshu, to lead the faction. “Senior members of the NJ camp have engaged him and we hope he will accept the call,” a confessed New Jerusalem sympathiser revealed.
Soon after ascending the presidency Masisi dropped Batshu from cabinet where he was holding the portfolio of Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs. He is currently the chairperson of the BDP labour committee, and one of the most respected party elders who can boldly defend his position without being intimidated.
In an interview with The Patriot on Sunday Batshu said he is not interested in the new faction and described those behind the faction as people who are hell-bent of destabilizing the BDP and causing chaos in the party. “I am a member of the BDP in good standing. Although I will be retiring next year, I will support the party leadership fully. Those people should not even dare approach me,” he lashed out.
Although they remain headless and are running helter skelter to identify a reputable leader, New Jerusalem is alleged to be financially greased and are ready to roll out their campaign to take on the current leadership of the BDP. Allegations are flying thick and fast that the faction has now focussed their energies on convincing Tate East MP Samson Guma to take up the leadership of New Jerusalem to prepare for the battle ahead of the 2019 BDP Special Congress. Effort to reach Guma to establish if he is aware of the developments proved futile at the time of going to print.