By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
12 May 2014
Two Zimbabwean journalists based in South Africa have denied any links to the notorious Baba Jukwa facebook character, following reports over the weekend alleging they were behind the whistleblower who claims to be a disgruntled ZANU PF chef.
Journalists Mxolisi Ncube and Mkhululi Chimoio dismissed the allegations made in a report on the NewZimbabwe website, which claimed “unknown hackers” had infiltrated their emails and exposed their identities, including phone numbers, pictures and email addresses.
NewZimbabwe also posted a video, allegedly produced by the hackers, showing what appears to be pages from Ncube’s email account. The video showed correspondence between Ncube and publisher Wilf Mbanga of The Zimbabwean newspaper, in which Jukwa solicits payment to promote Mbanga’s newspaper.
A report in the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper, appearing the same day as the NewZimbabwe report, said the two journalists “are likely to face legal action for violating a number of laws through their Baba Jukwa Facebook page”.
But their lawyer, Obert Gutu, said his clients have denied any links to Baba Jukwa and plan to take “appropriate legal action” against “a UK-based online publication”. Gutu told SW Radio Africa their innocence will be proven in the Zimbabwean courts and he could not say much as the matter is still “subjudice”.
“There have been concerted efforts to hack my clients’ email which were not successful. It will come out clearly that their hands are clean, that they have absolutely nothing to hide and all these videos being created are really being done by people who have themselves a lot to hide,” Gutu explained.
He added: “What is being shown in the public domain is concocted fabrication by people with their own hidden agendas that they want to push. My clients have not been passing themselves off as Baba Jukwa.
They don’t know who Baba Jukwa is and there has been a concerted effort to criminalize them.”
Baba Jukwa appeared on the Zimbabwean scene ahead of the 2013 elections, claiming to be a disgruntled former ZANU PF politburo member with access to inside information. He exposed corruption by party officials, assassination plots and election rigging strategies, gaining him a huge following online.
But the anonymous character also published the personal information of some of these officials, including addresses and phone numbers, seeming to encourage people to take action against them. Hate speech was also not off limits.
Meanwhile information Minister Jonathan Moyo, is reported to have been sceptical about reports that Ncube and Chimoio were working with elements of the intelligence service within the country.
According to NewZimbabwe, Moyo said he was “relieved the unmasking of the real characters behind the scandal was not the work of any disgruntled ZANU PF politburo member contrary to country wide belief this was an inside job”.
We were unable to contact publisher Wilf Mbanga for his comment.