The man police claim funded the Baba Jukwa Facebook page, Chawarika Matongorere, has spoken out for the first time.
Last week National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed they were looking for Matongorere who is based in South Africa.
Although Matongorere, who said he was from Mabvuku-Tafara in Harare, confirmed communicating with the phantom blogger and buying him airtime from MTN, a South African mobile phone service provider, he denied the police allegations that he was funding the page.
He said although he used to get calls from a man identifying himself as Baba Jukwa and who seemed to be in a hurry to get $50 000 for unspecified reasons, he never knew him personally and never plotted anything with him.
“To start with, I am still in shock with police allegations that I funded Baba Jukwa and wrote subversive material on social media. I can’t deny communicating with Baba Jukwa and it’s true he approached me to set him up with people who may fund his project,” Matongorere said.
He said a proposed face-to-face meeting in Johannesburg with Baba Jukwa failed to materialise when the Facebook character, who claimed to be a close Zanu PF member fighting corruption and nepotism, wanted Matongorere to fund air tickets and accommodation for four people from Harare and a pay-out of about $5 000.
Matongorere said he received calls from a Zanu PF minister and a senior party official (names withheld) regarding the issue and felt he was being trapped.
“A day after receiving a call from the minister, Baba Jukwa wrote an email asking me to speed up my activities as his boys were raring to go and were getting impatient with my delays to meet with them,” he said.
“I felt trapped with the sudden turn of events because I had these people asking to speed up preparations and, on the other side, I had the minister and his friend telling me that they knew I was talking to Baba Jukwa and they were on his tail.”
The minister, Matongorere said, was eager to meet with him in Johannesburg, but he could not commit himself to the meeting.
“The Zanu PF official would call me in the morning and share with me how Baba Jukwa was damaging the party and other innocent citizens. I felt touched with his lectures and I also knew what he was talking about especially attacks on the minister’s personal life and President Mugabe that were frequent on Baba Jukwa’s page,” he said.
“He [Baba Jukwa] even asked for my cellphone number and he called me several times, though we never met, but I am convinced whoever he is, he is not Shona, but a speaker who learnt Shona. This I discovered from his poor Shona words.”
Matongorere has hired Harare lawyer Obert Gutu to represent him.
“I am in SA not to plot President Mugabe’s downfall, but to work and support my family, now I have been portrayed as a terrorist when I don’t even own a kitchen knife. This Baba Jukwa thing seems to be a political tool being used by the police to divert people’s attention from real issues affecting our nation.” Staff Reporter/NewsDay