Facebook character stirs up Zimbabwe politics

 
Baba Jukwa Facebook page

Is it a practical joke? A laughable ego trip? A crude piece of opposition propaganda? Or the first real insight that Zimbabweans have been offered into the inner-workings of the party that has ruled their country for decades?

I have been following Baba Jukwa on Facebook for a few months now, on the advice of a businessman and friend in Harare who was convinced that this was something special, something important - a genuine insider's account of the factional battles and corruption with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

It is certainly been an interesting read at an important time in Zimbabwe, with elections likely within the next few months.

In a daily blizzard of posts, Baba Jukwa has waged a furious information war against Zanu-PF - the party of which he claims to be a member.

The Jukwas

L: Baba Jukwa R: Amai Jukwa

Baba Jukwa - 86,750 "likes":

  • Means father of Jukwa
  • Facebook description: "Concerned father, fighting nepotism and directly linking community with their leaders, government, MPs and ministers"

Amai Jukwa - 18,704 "likes":

  • Means mother of Jukwa
  • Facebook description: "Loving mother of three"

Source: Facebook 24 May 2013

The stories - some of them more salacious gossip than whistle blowing - include allegations of rape, murder and corruption by senior Zanu-PF officials, and 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 a few of Mr Mugabe's supporters.

Some officials insist that Baba Jukwa must be the creation of Zanu-PF's bitter political rivals - now uneasy partners in a power-sharing government - the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

But it is worth noting that the heavily pro-Zanu-PF state-run newspaper, The Herald, has leant credibility to the idea that he is a traitor from within the party.

Baba Jukwa, wrote one Herald columnist, is "destructive, malicious… an imperialist takeover… working to destroy the revolutionary party from within by engaging in malicious and unholy alliances with the MDC-T party".

'A Robin Hood figure?'

So who is Baba Jukwa?

Is he one man, or - as the changing tone and style of writing might imply - a collective?

Robert Mugabe Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is offering large rewards for the true identity of Baba Jukwa

His site gleefully champions the notion that he is a Robin Hood figure - constantly battling to evade detection from Zanu-PF's cyber-warriors - and running digital rings around them in the process, as they offer large rewards for anyone who can reveal his true identity.

On his page, Baba Jukwa describes himself as a disillusioned Zanu-PF member, and as a "concerned father, fighting nepotism".

Significantly, more than 80,000 people have clicked the "like" button on his Facebook page - a substantial figure in a small country like Zimbabwe - and it is widely believed that many more follow him anonymously.

In response another Facebook character called Amai Jukwa has launched a page, with posts that are in support of Mr Mugabe - she has about 18,000 "likes".

Earlier this week I was one of several journalists to receive a direct email from Baba Jukwa, urging me to "spread the news".

I replied, asking if we might be able to meet on my next visit to Zimbabwe. He has not responded yet.

 
Andrew Harding Article written by Andrew Harding Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 19.

    @Nyaminyami, we also have to be careful not to swallow the cheap propaganda from the BBC, CNN and other Western media agencies. Its not a secret that since the Land Reform exercise they have been trying to push their own peoples' agendas on us. I would rather go with propaganda by us for us, rather than propaganda by them for us...pick your poison.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 18.

    Zimbabweans are an intelligent lot: we have different political views. Just as we cannot swallow the cheap propaganda from Herald so shall we not take this cheap publicity stance by Baba Jukwa: why is he not willing to meet Andrew Harding? Yet he wants the same reporter to publicise him? Anyone can make claims to anything, but I think it's for journalists to make an investigative coverage of this.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    I always respect BBC's coverage of factual issues, but in this one --- hmmmm, I am sorry to say that this does not read like from the world's biggest media house. Baba Jukwa is an impostor riding on sensational issues that he sometimes blows out of proportion for him to stay relevant with his followers. Just note his appeal for donations for posting on his FB page.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 16.

    If s/he has been ZANUPF all this time then He is also guilty of the things s/he says. Is s/he cleaning her/himself of the mess when nobody knows who s/he is? These allegations s/he portrays could have sustained more waters if s/he could identify who s/he is. The shod character is simply riding on the tears of Zimbabweans. Nothing s/he is saying can bring the food on the table for those in need.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    @Baobab where do you get your "facts"? Hate the man if you must but less fabrication - if you hadn't noticed Zim has been under Western sanctions for a good part of 10 years - where are these overseas properties that Bob and Co have been accumulating?

 

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