Baba Jukwa- the Facebook vigilante- assumed the role of a mole within President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, purporting to be fighting for the truth. He became popular prior to the July 2013 election, garnering up to 300,000 likes within a month.
Since the formation of the page which, by virtue of it having almost half a million followers, is the most popular in Zimbabwe, Baba Jukwa has been a fascinating, yet mysterious shadowy character .
Yesterday an online publication newzimbabwe.com, published a story in which it alleged that hackers had managed access Baba Jukwa’s email. The site gave links to a YouTube video that showed how this was, as reported, achieved.
There is a link to Google drive archive that contains tonnes of emails showing the people behind the administration of the page.
Two people alleged to be running the page are journalists Mxolisi Ncube and Mkululi Chimoio. NewsDay’s Online Editor, John Mokwetsi (JM) in an exclusive interview spoke to Mxolisi Ncube (MN) on the allegation through a Whatsapp Q&A.
JM: Are you Baba Jukwa?
MN: You know I would not lie if I were. I can give you proof that I am not?
JM: The country woke up to what appeared like genuine email details that link you and your friend to the famous FB political character. How do you defend that?
MN: I have nothing to do with Baba Jukwa my brother and as I said, I can give you proof to that. If you were here (South Africa), I would open my Facebook account and show you communication between me and Baba Jukwa, but I can still email those to you. You can have someone you trust here come and see the chats themselves.
JM: Why do you think the state would target you?
MN: I think they have been out to get us because we used to interview him (Baba Jukwa), so they thought we knew him, but we wish we did. On two occasions my emails and Facebook accounts were hacked. But let me tell you this now, nothing ever links me to that Jukwa character, though my Yahoo account suddenly got the Baba Jukwa name when you send stuff to it.
JM: That email showed you’re named as Baba Jukwa when you sent out emails to colleagues and friends. Did you close it after you discovered that it had been compromised?
MN: I did not close it because I never thought anyone would believe I was linked to that. It was a long time back. Last year. What happened is that BJ sent a bulk email introducing himself to international journalists and underneath was a link which I clicked and that’s when it all started. I think I still have the email as well.
JM: There is talk that you once worked for the state as a policeman and therefore better positioned to have a clear line to some vital secrets using your network.
MN: I did work for the state as a PR sergeant working in Bulawayo. I never had access to state information and if there is any CIO who knows me and can attest to that, let them come out and say it. I was a reporter with the in-house Outpost magazine
JM: Why do you think the state would want to frame you now when the impact of the page has severely gone down and The Zimbabwean (Newspaper that Mxolisi works for) not really selling in Zimbabwe.
MN: To be honest, I wish I could answer that question my brother, but I cannot because the state itself knows better.
JM: Have you seen the dossiers that show your email and your phone number used as alternative security on the Gmail account? What is your comment?
MN: I have not seen that my brother, but anyone could do that and since I am not Baba Jukwa, I would not have known he did that because I did not and still do not have access to BJ’s email. I have two email accounts and they support each other. I think BJ should him/herself give you reasons as to why he did that.
JM: Have received threats since the story was published yesterday?
MN: Not yet, only an abnormally high and at times suspicious number of Facebook friend requests and messages of solidarity from friends and others shocked and in need of clarification. Even if I were to receive threats, this would not faze me because that has been a constant feature in my life.
JM: How is your family taking this? And what actions are you taking as you claim this is job done to frame you?
MN: My family is shocked, but personally, I don’t know how to react. One minute I am shocked and the other I am feeling like a hero because I really idolised Baba Jukwa. To be honest, I still do. I am also planning a criminal defamation case and civil suit against the publication that went to town without even giving me a right of reply. As I said, I can prove beyond reasonable doubt that I am as in the dark about BJ as you are.
JM: You now live in South Africa and why did you leave Zimbabwe in the first place?
MN: I was fleeing the same persecution that seems to still be following me.
JM: Could you please be specific on the persecution?
MN: I did a story that about an alleged assassination attempt on Dumiso Dabengwa, when he had moved to join Simba Makoni. That, coupled with Emmerson Mnangagwa’s allegation that Zanu PF had lost the elections in March 2008 because of The Zimbabwean, made me one of their key targets.
Again, they should have based their story on my past in the ZRP. Some senior officers called telling me to leave Zimbabwe immediately because three people were on their way to get me. I had been abducted and released without harm previously, so I knew better than staying.
JM: Thank you for granting us this interview
MN: Thanks a lot my brother