Baba Jukwa shakes things up

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AS POLITICIANS wrangle over the precise date of Zimbabwe’s imminent presidential and parliamentary elections, the clarion call by Baba Jukwa has cut through the din.

REPORT BY OWN CORRESPONDENT.

Claiming to be a disgruntled insider from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, the gossipy Facebook page belonging to this mysterious character, whose name echoes that of a spirit medium, has drawn more than 185 000 “likes” in just three months, with hundreds of responses to every post.

Some think Baba Jukwa is a sort of Zimbabwean Robin Hood, stealing secrets from the ruling party and sharing them with the disfranchised masses.

Every day the blogger names and shames politicians for alleged corruption and brutality, often including their mobile-phone numbers with instructions to call and demand answers.

Other posts encourage Zimbabweans to register to vote. Asijiki! Baba Jukwa signs off. “No turning back!”

Zimbabweans tend to believe that this pseudonymous rabble-rouser really is an insider.

An editorial in NewsDay, an independent daily, told its readers to “take Baba Jukwa seriously”, adding that “It will be naïve to ignore what this Facebook character says as we go towards watershed elections.”

The State-controlled Herald newspaper, slavishly pro-Mugabe, denounced the “sinister elements” and “stooges” behind Baba Jukwa.

As elections approach, his warnings of violence are beginning to resonate grimly.

Baba Jukwa has been credited with predicting the death of Edward Chindori-Chininga, a Zanu-PF member of Parliament who died on June 19 in a car accident after issuing a report on his party’s theft of vast revenues from the diamond fields at Marange.

After months of confusion, it is still unclear when Zimbabwe will hold its first elections since the harrowing ones of 2008, when Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential race to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, whose party was then bludgeoned by Zanu PF thugs into aborting the runoff.

Though Mugabe at first got his constitutional court to set the date for July 31, he is now seeking an extension until August 14 in response to pressure from the Southern African Development Community, a regional club.

No less worrying for MDC-T, the timetable issued at Mugabe’s behest allows for six weeks between the first round of the presidential poll and the runoff.

It was during this period last time that Mugabe’s party militias and the security forces clobbered the opposition, especially in the countryside, killing some 200 of its people and forcing Tsvangirai to give up.

As Prime Minister since 2009 in an awkward ruling coalition, he has asked for a longer delay before the polls go ahead.

It had been agreed that the voters’ register, the State security machine and the media laws should all be reformed before the poll. But none of this has happened.
“An early and rapid election will play in Zanu PF’s favour in that it is easy to rig where preparations are done rapidly,” Baba Jukwa said.

As there has been “no time to implement key electoral reforms, my party is in full control of the current system.”