On July 31st, Zimbabwe is due to hold its first presidential election in six years. It will be the first since the chaotic 2008 election and the first under the country’s new constitution. In theory, voters should have a chance to remove their 89-year-old leader, Robert Mugabe, who was once a respected anti-colonial guerrilla who has devolved into a despot during his 33 years at the top of Zimbabwean politics.
In practice, it’s not that simple. Many expect Mugabe to delay, cancel, or rig the vote. Even if Mugabe loses, many fear violence.
Amid this uncertainty, something strange has happened. For the last few months, someone calling themselves “Baba Jukwa” has been posting damaging leaks from Mugabe’s Zanu PF party on a Facebook page. No one knows who Baba Jukwa is (the name means “father of Jukwa”). They claim to be a high-ranking yet disillusioned figure in Zanu-PF, but there is little in the way of proof — some have doubts he or she is even in the country.
Regardless of who they are, Baba Jukwa certainly seems to know a lot. Every day the account publishes tales of official corruption and brutality, often leaving the phone numbers of politicians so that readers can call them to complain. Perhaps the most famous post so far warned of an assassination plot against Edward Chindori-Chininga, a Zanu-PF politician who released a report on theft from diamond fields. Chindori-Chininga later died in a car crash. His family insists he was murdered.
The public has taken notice too. At the time of writing, the Baba Jukwa Facebook page has over 256,000 likes — a big number in a country where only 4.5 million people are connected to the Internet — and the page has seen international attention from the BBC and the Economist. The Mugabe faithful and Zanu-PF elite are reportedly enraged — a pro-Mugabe page called “Amai Jukwa” has been set up, and Mugabe himself has reportedly offered a $300,000 reward to anyone who can reveal Baba Jukwa’s identity.
While it’s tempting to take Baba Jukwa at face value, that we know so little about them is concerning. It’s unclear, for example, if Baba Jukwa is connected to the rival Zimbabwean party, Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change. More controversially, Baba Jukwa said last month that they knew where Minister of Youth Development Saviour Kasukuwere’s children went to school and said Kasukuwere should not be surprised if one “disappears.”
According to a screenshot of the message featured at Vice (the message itself appears to have been deleted), Baba Jukwa had accused Kasukuwere of involvement in the death of Chininga, and apparently felt now was the time for violence. “It’s now fire with fire,” Baba Jukwa wrote, “blood with blood.”
Business Insider reached out to Baba Jukwa to try and find out more. [Grammar and spelling have been lightly edited for clarity.]
Business Insider: Why did you start publishing Zanu-PF secrets?
Baba Jukwa: This is not only revealing secrets, but letting people know the truth about evil Mugabe and his inner circle.
BI: Where do you get your information from?
BJ: I have a lot of information which I gathered while I was in the government. I was also a close ally with Solomon Mujuru [Zimbabwe’s former army chief and former leader of Mugabe’s guerrilla forces] so we knew every operation and I am connected everywhere within the party structures and government. I also appreciate contribution of some of my friends who are still in the system as they provide every detail to the people (Baba Jukwa) is the people of Zimbabwe not me as I represent them in what they are fearing and I won’t rest until I take these evil people to prison.
BI: Are you just one person or many?
BJ: Yes I am one person.
BI: What do you aim to achieve?
BJ: I want to create a freedom speech for everyone in the country and let the country and world know of these evil people.
BI: Do you support Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC?
BJ: Honestly I don’t support both Tsvangirai and MDC but realistically and for the sake of change he is a stepping stone to a better Zimbabwe.
BI: Are you based in Zimbabwe or abroad?
BJ: I am based in Harare [the capital], not only in Zimbabwe but across from the State House.
BI: It has been reported that Robert Mugabe is offering a reward for your identity. Are you concerned that you might be revealed? What would happen if your identity is revealed?
BJ: I am not even moved because these Mugabe people are not as intelligent as they claim, but they are only killers good at assassinating progressive forces within Zanu-PF and vulnerable citizens opposing them.
BI: What do you expect will happen in Zimbabwe’s next election? Will it take place?
BJ: Honestly, I want it to take place, but Mugabe will back out in the last minute because if an election is held he will be lucky to get 20% votes as people [are joining the rebel group] Vapanduki (they have revolted against his evil system).
BI: Mugabe is 90 years old, and you have reported a number of concerns about his health. How long do you think he can continue to lead the country?
BJ: This is what will happen: He won’t complete 2013 as head of state, he will be beaten by Tsvangirai or his evil security chiefs will force him out led by Mnangagwa Emmerson, defence Minister; Sekeramayi Sydney, State Security Minister; Chiwenga Constantine, army General Chief; and Saviour Kasukuwere, Minister of controversial indigenization policy.
BI: In one post you threatened to abduct the children of Minister of Youth Development, Saviour Kasukuwere. A lot of observers were upset by this threat of violence. Would you resort to violence against children for your cause?
BJ: Honestly, that was a slip up which I apologized for, but these people always push us further as they also abduct our family members and I thought SADC [South African Development Community], AU [African Union] and international community will feel and see the emotions behind that. But I am not a violent person, but concerned father in need of a better society. That is why that statement was retracted and my apology still stands to the kids of Kasukuwere and his wife. But the father has to pay for his sins as he has killed, tortured, victimized and raped.
BI: What do you hope for Zimbabwe’s future?
BJ: I hope for a united Zimbabwe where people are identified under an umbrella word “ZIMBABWEANS’ not on tribal lines. I hope everyone will forgive and forget for a better future, but I insist the word Zanu-PF should be banned from our Zimbabwean history as it will be giving people sad moments. We need to erase it like what [Germany] did to Hitler’s evil issues.
Whatever Baba Jukwa is hoping for, they are certainly aiming high. In a follow-up message, Baba Jukwa revealed that they have begun fund-raising to “push my struggle forward.” The money will be used to grow teams on the ground so that every region will be covered for daily information, Baba Jukwa says.
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