Baba Jukwa breaks new ground

HARARE - Baba Jukwa, a faceless, Facebook character who has rattled Zanu PF ahead of elections this year, has grown in popularity and has hit the 100 000 mark, a feat not achieved by many including top celebrities and politicians.

With 103 673 followers on his Facebook page at the end of the working day yesterday, Baba Jukwa is in a league of his own, and continues to shock top government officials including those from the security sector through the social networking site.

Churning out what appears to be Zanu PF and government’s dark secrets, the faceless Facebook character, appears to be up-Baba Jukwa breaks new ground to date with happenings in the former ruling party and is causing anxiety among top officials.

Although Baba Jukwa only joined the fray months after her rival Amai Jukwa, another faceless Facebook character, the self-proclaimed Zanu PF insider has been sizzling with top government information that is causing anxiety within party at a time when elections are on the horizon.

With key elections fast approaching, Baba Jukwa’s is fast becoming one of the most influential figures in Zimbabwean politics.

Baba Jukwa’s posts include allegations of rape, murder and corruption by senior Zanu-PF officials are often accompanied by the mobile phone numbers of those accused, with calls for the public to bombard them with questions.

The onslaught has clearly rattled many in Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

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, Mugabe and his fractious party have been forced to turn their attention to a new frontier - Baba Jukwa.

The mysterious but extremely popular 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.

In kombis, taxis, colleges, and the ordinary people in townships, Baba Jukwa has taken the Zimbabwean political scene by storm.

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 alleged murder plots by top-ranking Zanu PF.

His “lens” have 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.

Last week, our sister publication, 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.

He has also launched a website

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. - Xolisani Ncube

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