President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party is being shaken by a Facebook character “Baba Jukwa”, who produces revelations of wrong-doing by leaders of the party, according to a report.
Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Baba Jukwa made startling revelations about the party’s internal affairs, ranging from plans by Zanu-PF to rig elections that are expected to take place this year to naming officials who led the government crackdown against the opposition in the western region of Matabeleland that killed as many as 20 000 people in the 1980s.
Baba Jukwa, who hasn’t revealed his identity, has published phone numbers of politicians, police members, intelligence agents and army officers he says are “murdering” civilians and encourages Zimbabweans to phone them.
Analysts have said the development is a new form of protest particularly in a country where people are starved of independent reporting from the media, with Reporters Without Borders ranking the southern African nation 133 out of 170 nations in its World Press Freedom Index.
“This is a new form of protest in the information age,” said Pedzisai Ruhanya, director of the Zimbabwe Democratic Institute research group. “Citizens will find ways of circumventing undemocratic space.”
Often writing in colloquial Zimbabwean English, Baba Jukwa says he’s a senior member of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party.
Since starting on March 22, his page has gained about 137 000 followers, more than those of both Mugabe and his long-time election rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
About 15.7% of Zimbabwe’s 14 million people have access to the internet, the International Telecommunications Union said in January.
But Zanu-PF says it is not worried about Baba Jukwa.
“We are not worried at all about Baba Jukwa because he wants to cause confusion and conflict within the party, but he won’t get it,” Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said.
Gumbo said Zanu-PF was focused on defeating Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Changein the elections so the party could “spearhead our land reform programme and intensify our indigenisation and empowerment”.