Baba Jukwa rises from the 'grave'

HARARE - Senior government and Zanu PF officials are said to be in a serious pickle over what they should do next after controversial Facebook character Baba Jukwa resurfaced on Thursday and began posting more damaging ruling party goings-on.

Well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that many bigwigs were in a quandary about what was going on and how they should handle the puzzle after suspended Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi was arrested last year following claims that he was in fact Baba Jukwa.

Kudzayi and his brother Phillip are out on bail facing charges of plotting to subvert a constitutionally elected government, banditry, insurgency and demeaning the office of President Robert Mugabe.

The sources who spoke to the Daily News said what was perplexing authorities was the fact that the number of posts on the Baba Jukwa page had declined considerably following Kudzayi’s arrest, with the page ultimately being pulled off the Internet altogether in August last year.

Part of Kudzayi’s bail conditions was that he surrenders passwords of the page’s email address to the police, which he said he had got hold of as he allegedly worked with authorities to nab the real people behind the phenomenon.

“The great puzzle is the quest to know what is going on, who really is behind this page and what their game plan is given what has happened over the past few months.

“Authorities are also wrestling with the conundrum of whether Baba Jukwa is connected to the other controversial but equally popular Facebook page, Zimbabweans for Prosperity, and whether the people behind the two moles are the same,” one of the sources said.

The Baba Jukwa page, which currently has about 410 000 followers, became very popular in the lead-up to the 2013 harmonised elections as it dished out a steady stream of juicy stories on Zanu PF’s misrule, as well as many of its corrupt leaders.

Baba Jukwa claimed on Thursday that he had a list of people from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) who were on a Zanu PF hit list.

“List of people to disappear in February. You’ll remember I told you of how many officers will die in 2014 before it all happened. Three more junior CIOs are going to disappear between 15 February and 5 March.

“You will not hear much of them and it will be like nothing has happened. But their bodies will be turned into ashes. I will give you the updated full list on Monday and will also tell you where and how this is all to go. Watch your back vafana watch!!!,” Baba Jukwa said, before signing off with his trademark “Asijiki!” slogan — which means we will neither relent, back down nor surrender.

Yesterday Baba Jukwa also made alarming claims that he had a video showing relatives of some fallen heroes, threatening Higher Education minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri in the process.

“Tongogara is here!!! All relatives of Josiah Tongogara, Moven Mahachi and those of Border Gezi inbox me today I want to show you some interesting videos they have hidden from you all. Oppah you are not clever at all!!,” Baba Jukwa wrote.

He also had a field day, mocking Mugabe’s old age and his recent fall at Harare International Airport.

“I told you all before great Zimbabweans, it started of as dosing off here and there before it progressed to full blown sleeping, dreaming and snoring. In meetings, at gatherings, at funerals, at summits and even in his office.

“Then it moved a notch or two up, to involuntary outbursts and loss of balance. “Pasi ne Zanu PF”, “Tsvangirai won the elections by 73 percent” and more recently, the infamous airport ground kiss,” Baba Jukwa said.

During his absence, another scathing political gossip page, Zimbabweans for Prosperity (ZFP), had been launched to seemingly carry the Baba Jukwa torch forward, and claiming to be Baba Jukwa’s “sahwira” (friend).

Yesterday, ZFP warned Mugabe that it was a futile exercise for his government to look for the main players behind the faceless Facebook character.

“Someone needs to tell Mugabe that it’s both a mean and futile exercise to arrest innocent people in the vain hope that people will stop fighting for their freedom. One of our admins here at Zimforpro has just been abducted from his home by three men who came driving in a blue Range Rover with no licence plates.

“We think we know who the goons are and why they did what they did. We will not say much at this time suffice to tell the junta that we are not the ones who took or leaked pictures of the Great Fall From Grace at the airport last week,” ZFP said.

The intrepid political gossip phenomenon already has nearly 17 000 likes in the months it has been running.

It is also believed that hundreds of thousands more people are accessing the page anonymously daily for fear of ending up being accused by thin-skinned officials of being associated with the Internet troll, as happened to some later accused of being associated with Baba Jukwa.

Like Baba Jukwa, ZFP comes across as intimately connected to and in the full know of many of the ugly goings-on within Zanu PF  — dishing out a steady stream of sensational claims about the party and its bigwigs, from the days of the liberation struggle to the present.

The page, which uses both Zanu PF and Baba Jukwa lexicon such as Aluta Continua and Asijiki, was created after the disputed July 31, 2013 elections, but only started blowing full steam following the recent worsening of ructions in the ruling party.

Some of ZFP’s posts allegedly show pictures of some of the First Family’s supposed multi-million dollar properties, including claimed mansions in and outside Zimbabwe.

“Say no to any dairy product from Alpha Omega, for without our money the network of tyranny is doomed. Aluta!!” one post said.

“We will bury you too Robert. Very soon. Asijiki!!,” another said, next to a cartoon purportedly depicting Mugabe and Grace soon after burying the late decorated liberation war icon, Solomon Mujuru and others.

Yet other pictures posted on October 25 last year depict a young Joice Mujuru holding an AK47 rifle and apparently questioning those of the First Lady.

Maxwell Saungweme, a political analyst based in Afghanistan, told the Daily News last week that whether the Facebook page was “another Zanu PF distraction or not”, the troll was helping to give Zimbabweans as much information about their country and leaders and leaving them to choose what to believe.

“Whether it is a diversionary ploy or not, in this century the more information the public gets the better. Zimbabweans are intelligent people and they are able to sift through and separate stones from grain.

“Let there be as many sources and platforms for information and the public will be able to see whether they are being taken for a ride or not.

“We should be yearning for a Zimbabwe where such information about corrupt behaviours and untoward practices of government, political parties, the non-profit sector and the private sector are exposed in this manner, with police not trailing the people who provide such information as they did to the Baba Jukwa suspects,” Saungweme said.

Dewa Mavhinga, a researcher with the Human Rights Watch concurred saying the concept of anonymous revelations of organisations’ inside information was important in that it exposed the wrong-doings while protecting the sources of such information.

“From a human rights point of view, it is an affirmation of freedom of speech, but it needs to be approached with caution as anonymity can sometimes lead to reckless disregard of other people’s rights or a lack of accuracy in reporting,” Mavhinga said.

He urged users of social media platforms to always verify whatever information they came across, and use it to advance human rights and democracy “instead of sitting back in the hope that change will happen merely on the basis of information given anonymously”.

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