A new Facebook phenomenon has Zimbabwe talking as elections approach. An anonymous character calling himself Baba Jukwa (BJ) has become a major focal point as Zimbabweans hungry for political intrigue visit “his” Facebook page to get the latest on what is happening in President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) political party.
“BJ” is said to be a member of ZANU-PF’s inner circle and describes himself as a “Concerned father, fighting nepotism and directly linking community with their Leaders, Government, MPs and Ministers” and is dishing the dirt on the party, much to the delight of his followers.
It is however suspected that "BJ" is a group of people who post regular updates from different parts of the country, but whatever the case, "BJ", with 144,104 Facebook likes at the time of writing this post, has forever changed Zimbabwean politics and how social media is appropriated in contemporary political discourse ahead of elections expected this year.
Most of his revelations include the names and sometimes telephone numbers of politicians, intelligence officers and army officials. In one of his updates, he talks about corruption involving a Chinese firm and officials from the president's office and indigenisation office. He states:
“Whilst Zimbabwe is saying China is here to help, only government officials and Zanu goons are benefiting. Can I share with you this information; there is a company which is being run by a Chinese guy Tsao Xuecheng. It has been operating for the past 5 years. It’s the company that installed new elevators at Zanu pf recently. Shamu and other Zanu goons got their shares in this deal. On the 14 of May the company was paid US$250 000 as deposit to install a new CID HQ. The material is on its way from China. This Chinese guy works with Kasukuwere and Neville Mutsvengwa from the indigenisation office.”
In another post, he names an ICT expert trained in surveillance who pretends to be working for a railways company:
“Patrons at Belgravia sports club are advised that there is an operative who is spending much time there these days by your place. He is an ICT guru and covers by working for a Railways company. He is well trained in tracking, and very good to those close to the Prime Minister Tsvangirai.”
He names the people who were behind Zimbabwe involvement in the Second Congo War:
“Zimbabwe do you know that the Zimbabwe National Army’s involvement in the DRC conflict was motivated more by Mugabe, Mnangagwa and the military junta’s desire to enrich themselves on Congo’s rich natural resources? Among them was Robert Mhlanga, a former Air Force Vice-Marshal and Mugabe’s personal helicopter pilot, who retired a millionaire shortly after his tour in the DRC. This thug Robert Mhlanga was also a key state witness in the treason trial against MDC President, Morgan Tsvangirai in 2003.”
He describes Zanu PF's planned tactics to rig this year's election:
“Those who follow this page would remember that some weeks ago Iposted that Zanu Pf's rigging machinery is divided into three stages, namely registration and inspection, campaigning and finally voting and counting.
The first stage has been confirmed by the most unlikely source, Amai Mujuru [...] Be that as it is, my message today is that Zanu Pf has recently resolved to shift a gear up in its rigging strategy, that is, stage 2, Campaign Stage, thereby prompting me to come back to you Zimbabwe so that you won't be duped by these cunning old people.”
His mysterious air and revelations have caused controversy. Zimbabwean comedian Carl Joshua Ncube (@CarlJoshuaNcube) wrote:
@CarlJoshuaNcube: my non Zimbabwean friends asking me who Baba Jukwa is and I am like “all I know is that he is a short little white man with a walking stick”.
Zimbabwean journalist Mike Madoda (@mikemadoda) described BJ's popularity:
@mikemadoda: "I dare say this Baba Jukwa fella is now more popular/infamous (depending on ur affiliation) than Jonathan Moyo [Jonathan Moyo is the much maligned former Information Minister] was at his zenith.”
Citizen journalism website Living Zimbabwe asked Zimbabweans on Facebook:
“Given the nature of the content that Baba Jukwa shares with the world, do you think he (or they) could have an impact on Zimbabwe's political landscape?”
*About the author: Madalitso Mwanda is a journalist, writer and online activist.