Baba Jukwa saga: Unanswered questions

HARARE - Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi’s claim that he worked for the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to hack into the Facebook account of the “real” Baba Jukwa has left Zimbabweans with more questions than answers.

Given that surveillance is an area that should mundanely fall under the ambit of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) not the military, this is an area where many Zimbabweans are demanding answers if representations made to the Daily News by our readers are anything to go by.

Our online readers say the lines are getting blurred.

How has the defence forces been sucked into this one and what is its interest in this matter?

Why was the CIO left out in this?

That Kudzayi himself in his defence outline actually says he was hired by Environment, Water and Climate minister Savior Kasukuwere to assess and make an overview of Baba Jukwa information as an IT expert and went on to work for the military, is guaranteed to make Zimbabweans choke on their morning tea.

“I would indicate that my involvement relates to the hacking of the Baba Jukwa account, wherein I worked with officials from the ministry of Defence,” Kudzayi explains in his court papers.

“I gave them two detailed reports to the Baba Jukwa issue.

“I also did a detailed presentation at the ministry of Defence which was attended by high level people including Kembo, Moyo, Hebert Huruva and Professor Jonathan Moyo. I was even paid for these expert services.”

Taxpayers have a right to know how much Kudzayi was paid for rendering this service.

Kudzayi’s revelations have raised question marks over the extent of web and communications monitoring.

Was this task carried out by the military on behalf of the Zimbabwe government? Who exactly commissioned it?

As the flood of the Baba Jukwa scandal threatens to explode, it has raised the question whether such secret operations are worth the reputational damage the military is suffering now, as a result of the revelations by Kudzayi.

Though this was primarily a contract between Kudzayi and the military, it is also a very awkward situation for the ruling Zanu PF.

Firstly, Air Marshal Perrence Shiri, the Air Force of Zimbabwe commander presented the military as an institution that does not interfere in the politics of Zanu PF and only getting involved when the country faces external threat.

And this is how the military should operate?

Yet Kudzayi says the military is neck deep in Zanu PF politics, literally commanding the ruling party’s propaganda arsenal and trawling for the party’s perceived opponents.

Secondly, though the Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi this week stayed well clear of commenting on this issue so far, the military has already been implicated by association.

Sekeramayi told the Daily News this week — before Kudzayi’s High Court bail application — that he would not comment on the claims.

“Aah, I am not going to comment on those things,” he said, before abruptly terminating the conversation.

And yet Kudzayi wants to testify that the military hired him to probe and swap information with the army on the Baba Jukwa probe.

The military will be pressed to say something, but must avoid being seen as choosing between Kudzayi and their interests.

The military cannot wiggle out of this one without an immediate and comprehensive clarification.

If Kudzayi’s information is proved correct, it would be completely unacceptable and a grave overstepping of its terms of reference.

Of course, we don’t imagine the military getting into a discussion on national security, but espionage is not a military matter, it’s an issue of national sovereignty that should be handled by the CIO.

Finally, under a worst-case scenario, the much-talked-up allegations that Kudzayi was infact Baba Jukwa, could become collateral damage.

This would be a shame.

How much was this deal between the military and Kudzayi worth?

By his admission, it seems the military invested huge amounts of cash and political capital to seeing it through.

At a time when government is failing to bankroll Parliament or even pay its workers in time, was taxpayers’ money sunk into this project, which thousands of men and women under CIO payroll should be handling?

Was there really any need to engage a consultant to undertake a duty that should ordinarily be carried out by State agents?

The military could now well insist on various complicated privacy safeguards and guarantees as quid pro quo to hush this up.

What will be the fate of Kudzayi’s trial in the context of these damning allegations?
If so much has already been revealed in the preliminary bail stage of this legal process, then the trial is likely to open a can of worms.

The State yesterday successfully pushed for the High Court to defer the bail hearing to Thursday to give itself time to prepare for a response to Kudzayi’s voluminous application.

Kudzayi’s revelations so far have created shock-waves around Zimbabwe.

The problem is that Kudzayi is not pulling back any punches and will be in no position to offer any major concessions or conceal any information given that this is a fight for his
life.

Equally, dishing out dirt that is perceived to undermine national security leaves him in an awkward position.

It also raises the question, how did Kudzayi get hired to be the Sunday Mail editor?

Was a proper due diligence done?

The ministry of Information and the accounting officer in the ministry George Charamba, who was said to be away during Kudzayi’s engagement, should answer for this.

In the context of these very serious sedition charges levelled against Kudzayi, hardly two months after his appointment, did the ministry of Information, and indeed the State, suffer from a systematic failure to adequately conduct investigations on the rookie editor before engaging him?

Given his background with the anti-establishment African Aristocract, a concern raised by President Robert Mugabe himself, there is an alarmingly insufficient level of oversight, a lack of independent verification and failure to conduct important background investigations.

And it risks costing Zimpapers 1980 (Pvt) Ltd — publishers of the Sunday Mail and the Herald — dearly, given a spate of lawsuits, a tumbling stock price and concerns over the Baba Jukwa endgame.

South African journalists Mkhululi Chimoio and Mxolisi Ncube, who the State media has all along been claiming to be part of a syndicate behind the Baba Jukwa Facebook page, have already sued Zimpapers for $100 million and the paper faces more lawsuits by officials targeted by the Sunday Mail editor under his Amai Jukwa crusade.

Kudzayi makes for an interesting case study because of what an unusual person he was before this scandal.

The 28-year-old shot to limelight as Amai Jukwa, rising quickly and making a bizarrely large leap to having access to more and more top officials as he climbed the ranks to become the Sunday Mail editor.

Comments (4)

Hacking is an illegal activity in many countries including US and Britain without a court order, just like phone tapping is illegal without a court order. And evidence so obtained is not admissible in any court of law. So all these hackers if they are truelly hackers could be liable to arrest in many countries where facebook and gmail are domiciled and can receive jail terms if found guilty.

Educated - 29 June 2014

Ko mwana wezvira nhai. MaKaranga makavata chaizvo. Ndosaka muchitongwa namaBwidi nemaZezuru. Anyway, this is one of the many cases that will die a natural death. If ZANU PF and their ZANLA forces are involved as it appears, I can assure you the case will die a natural death. Period!

dick mboko - 29 June 2014

gmail,econet and google have a case to answer if Edmund is right.

carig dx - 30 June 2014

It is interesting to note the progress of this case,mainly how it is going to rope in many bigwigs and arouse gross questions of allegiance and patriotism .But I am not convinced the young man will survive .He might commit suicide like Learnmore Jongwe.His issues are too undressing for the eyes of political adults and infants. He might commit suicide in the cells forced by the gravity of what is ahead him.That is how deadly it is to play any game with adults.Sad so intelligent a mind to face the possibility of so short a life.

kenneth page - 1 July 2014

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