HomeEditorial CommentUS$10bn debt, all energy on Baba Jukwa

US$10bn debt, all energy on Baba Jukwa

ZIMBABWEANS woke up to the disturbing news on Friday that government debt, pegged at US$6,6 billion at the end of December last year, had shot up to US$9,9 billion.

From The Editor’s Desk with Walter Marwizi

Anywhere in the world, a 50% rise in debt in such a short period of time would have caused both alarm and despondency and leaders would have scrambled for explanations.

They would also seek to convince the nation that measures would be introduced to reduce the debt levels.

Not in Zimbabwe. Here our leaders’ focus is on trivialities; hiring consultants to unmask Baba Jukwa, gallivanting across the globe and fighting neighbours whose dogs sneak into their yards to sample game, strangely kept in their backyards.

Over the past two weeks, the spotlight has moved away from corruption and the sinking economy as we were treated to the Baba Jukwa soap opera.

This followed the arrest of Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi on charges of subverting a constitutionally elected government and attempting to commit an act of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism, among other charges. Kudzayi, who the state says is the administrator of the Baba Jukwa page, denies the charges.

Baba Jukwa gained prominence during the run up to the July 31 election last year when, posing as a Zanu PF mole, exposed intriguing assassination plots, corruption and planned vote rigging by Zanu PF.

A phenomenal 400 000 people liked the page.

Despite Baba Jukwa’s incriminating posts, President Robert Mugabe won the election, and secured a two thirds majority in parliament. The MDC-T, which Baba Jukwa supported, never recovered from the election loss and has now split into two factions, pitting secretary general Tendai Biti against president Morgan Tsvangirai.

Over the past few months, Baba Jukwa has ran out of steam. Posts on the page became fewer and so was the interaction by the page’s followers. We thought Zanu PF had forgotten about Baba Jukwa but then out of the blue, President Robert Mugabe made the rant about weevils seeking to destroy Zanu PF from within, triggering a set of events that culminated in the arrest of Kudzayi two weeks ago.

In court, Kudzayi however turned the tables on his accusers when he revealed he had been hired by the Ministry of Defence to help unmask Baba Jukwa and was paid handsomely for his services.
He explained in detail how he worked with Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, and how he even held presentations attended by MoD officials and Information minister Jonathan Moyo.

His revelations exposed just how tax payers’ funds are abused by Zanu PF on projects that do not help the nation. These projects that only serve parochial interests of Zanu PF officials raise many questions that need answers:

If the MoD were to know who Baba Jukwa is, how was that going to help the ministry? Is it legal for the Ministry of Defence to be hiring consultants to hack into Baba Jukwa emails? Is it in the public interest for ministers to spend their time and energy on such matters?

How much has been spent in the secret hunt for Baba Jukwa? Maybe the robust Buhera MP Joseph Chinotimba should take this issue with the Minister of Defence in Parliament during the next question and answer session.

What can easily be discerned from this saga is the level of paranoia in government, and our leaders’ determination to crush dissent. In the past they succeeded in closing newspapers and arresting journalists not toeing their line but they have been challenged by the complexity of the social media, hence the need for hackers.

Their game plan is to unmask Baba Jukwa and strike fear into the hearts of those who dare criticise government on the social media.

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