By Fungi Kwaramba and Mugove Tafirenyika
HARARE – With key elections around the corner and a cupboard full of skeletons, a Facebook character constantly churning out what appears to be dark party and government secrets is the last thing Zanu PF would want.
Yet, apart from the factional fighting that is playing out publicly in courts of law and elsewhere, President Robert Mugabe and his fractious party have to turn their guns against a new frontier — Baba Jukwa.
Baba Jukwa, a faceless Facebook character, seems so up-to-date with happenings in Zanu PF that top officials tremble at the mention of his name.
He is dominating dinner table discussions, not only among affected Zanu PF officials but also among many ordinary folks who cannot go a day without clicking his page for the “latest” inside detail.
Insiders say there is an all-out effort to sniff out Baba Jukwa, who claims to be a Zanu PF insider gone rogue.
“Tapanduka zvachose,” is his catchphrase while dishing out details which he claims are from high level meetings. He mentions the venues of the meetings, the times and salacious details such as murder plots by top-ranking Zanu PF, military and intelligence commanders.
His “lens” has at times taken those who follow his page to State House meetings, leaving even security goons in awe. Baba Jukwa claims to have foretold the demise of a top intelligence commander who suffered a sudden death recently.
He claimed the top agent was poisoned by colleagues. He further claims to have foretold a road accident which recently befell a Zanu PF politburo member. On Friday, the Daily News on Sunday went online and briefly chatted up Baba Jukwa via the Facebook chat platform.
He claimed to be in the thick of things, promising to reveal even “darker” secrets within Zanu PF.
“There are a lot of people whom I know will die in the following three months,” he said before dropping names of “targets” ranging from top Zanu PF officials and army commanders to MDC leaders, civil society actors and a prominent female lawyer.
In a little over three months, the Internet troll’s popularity has risen to nearly a 100 000 followers and in the process creating some sort of movement or wave that has become a thorn in the flesh of many in the former guerrilla movement.
He has also launched a website http://zimbabwean-at-heart.com.
This sharply contrasts with another faceless blogger calling him or herself Amai Jukwa — a pioneer of this hard-hitting banter and commentary, but with merely a quarter of the other Jukwa’s following.
Although he seldom attacks President Robert Mugabe and his vice Joice Mujuru, Baba Jukwa instead focuses his energies on people such as Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere and other inside plots.
Apart from politicians, he has also drawn the ire of other high-ranking government officials with his salacious allegations and “predictions”. Many in Zanu PF believe he is a party insider with access to top drawer secrets.
But Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu PF spokesperson, on Friday refused to comment on Baba Jukwa.
“Let him say what he wants, ndezvababa Jukwa izvo, we are not going to comment on that,” said Gumbo.
Despite feigning composure, sources in Zanu PF say the party has deployed well-oiled machinery that is working round-the-clock to sniff out Baba Jukwa, fearing his destabilising effect could haunt the party ahead of elections.
Political analysts such as Zimbabwe Democracy Institute’s Pedzisai Ruhanya say the Baba Jukwa phenomenon is a case of chickens coming home to roost.
“It is assisting to democratise the public sphere in the sense that in authoritarian States or governments where information is censored, where the media is curtailed, citizens find different ways of interaction and sharing information which the State cannot control,” said Ruhanya.
“What is happening with Baba Jukwa therefore is a case of import media liberalisation where the State fails to liberalise its media space, the democratic space and the social media becomes handy.
“The reason is that the State or any organisation for that matter has no capacity to regulate the modern information superhighway. What Zanu PF should do therefore is not to look for Baba Jukwa but to liberate the public space, especially the media.
“To look for Baba Jukwa will only lead to the emergence of a million other Baba Jukwas,” said Ruhanya. Daily News