Anonymous Zimbabwean blogger enjoys cult status by dishing dirt on ruling party
Apparent party insider ‘Baba Jukwa’ leaking detailed information on Zanu-PF ahead of crucial elections
Pseudonymous blogger Baba Jukwa – which means Father Jukwa in the Shona language – says he is a senior Zanu-PF party insider who has become disillusioned with the former liberation movement.
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has many critics, but few have gained the cult status enjoyed by Baba Jukwa, a pseudonymous blogger who emerged recently to undermine the ruling party ahead of general elections.
Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans at home and abroad are logging on to social network site Facebook to view Jukwa’s latest utterances, eager to get the inside scoop on Zanu-PF’s security apparatus and how it operates.
Baba Jukwa, which means Father Jukwa in the Shona language, says he is a senior Zanu-PF party insider who has become disillusioned with the former liberation movement.
Consequently, he has decided to keep the public informed about the ruling party’s antics and inner workings in the run-up to poll.
“Concerned father, fighting nepotism and directly linking community with their leaders, government, MPs and ministers,” his timeline profile reads.
Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party are facing off in a crucial general election this month to end a shaky powersharing arrangement that dates back to 2009.
Political parties have been engaging people across the country as part of their efforts to secure votes at the ballot box on July 31st next.
Moreover, state-run and independent media organisations are also informing the public about news surrounding the parties, their policies and how they are conducting themselves during the election campaigning.
But it appears the state’s control of information has forced many ordinary Zimbabweans to turn to technology and a pseudonymous blogger to supplement the information they are being fed by the state about Zanu-PF.
While most Zimbabweans do not have access to personal computers, it is estimated there are 12 million mobile phone subscribers. It is thought that more than 60 per cent of them have direct access to the internet through their phones, and are following Jukwa’s posts that way.
A number of times each day the pseudonymous blogger leaks detailed information, ranging from how Zanu-PF plans to rig the voters’ roll and illegally increase the party’s vote count, to intelligence tabled at the party’s politburo meetings and people who are on hit lists.
He has also vowed to end Mugabe’s rule by exposing the alleged involvement of his top officials and security personnel in the violence that erupted around the disputed 2008 elections that left more than 200 opposition supporters dead.
Since March the Jukwa Facebook profile has attracted more than 235,000 followers – significantly more than Mr Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s have drawn in, even when their tallies are combined.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told local reporters last week his party had no idea who Jukwa really is, and he insisted the blogger’s posts are factually incorrect.
“Whoever he is, he fabricates lies and is not doing any good to the morality of our society,” said Gumbo, who added that the party was not worried by a blogger who was trying to create confusion in the party.
However, some of the posts appear to be dangerously accurate. Edward Chindori-Chininga, a former Zanu-PF minister who had fallen foul of party members for exposing corruption, has died suspiciously in a car wreck on June 19th.
In the weeks leading up to the incident Jukwa warned that Chindori-Chininga was a target for assassination.
“The Mashonaland Central [Zimbabwean province] mafia is planning to sink Edward Chindori-Chininga and replace him with their puppet.
“They are accusing him of co-operating with Baba Jukwa to divulge information about some of the things that are taking place in the party and in the province,” the blogger posted.
Leaked private and secret telephone numbers of security agents have been corroborated later in public statements by Zanu-PF, with officials calling on members of the public to stop ringing them to deliver angry messages.
Whether Jukwa is a single person or a number of contributors, the blogger profile intends to keep its true identity a mystery until Zanu-PF changes its ways, or a new party comes to power.
“I assure you, you will know me in a new Zimbabwe where our government will be transparent,” he said.
In the meantime, his supporters are comparing him to Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, because of the manner in which he keeps revealing information.