By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
19 May 2014
A number of senior ZANU PF politicians, businessmen and individuals are preparing to sue the social networking site Facebook for what they consider to be a violation of their privacy rights.
The state controlled Herald newspaper reported on Monday that people who were targeted by Baba Jukwa’s Facebook page are now in contact with a South African law firm, preparing a class action lawsuit against the California based company.
The paper alleges that the Facebook page was operated from South Africa by two journalists, Mxolisi Ncube and Mkhululi Chimoio. The Faceless Baba Jukwa rattled ZANU PF in the build up to last year’s elections. The Baba Jukwa page seemed to give up-to-date happenings within ZANU PF and, to a certain degree, some of it was correct according to party spokesman Rugare Gumbo.
But almost a year later there now appears to be an all-out effort to sniff out Baba Jukwa, as evidenced by the exposé of a series of emails, purporting to be between Baba Jukwa and Sahwira waBaba Jukwa, by the state media.
Obert Gutu, a lawyer who is representing the two journalists accused of operating the Baba Jukwa Facebook, said whoever is propagating the ‘fishing expedition’ was just trying to create a mountain out of a molehill.
‘It’s a diversionary tactic being used by those who control the ZANU PF propaganda machinery to divert things from the declining state of the economy, loss of jobs and the continued absence of an economic upturn contrary to what ZANU PF promised the people,’ Gutu said.
He continued: ‘It is a well calculated propaganda scheme to systematically divert the people’s attention from real pertinent issues affecting their lives.
Gutu said while he was against using social media to denigrate or attack citizens or disclose their health status, he felt the tightly controlled state media pushed people to behave in that manner.
The state media has not shied away from using offensive language or hate speech to attack those in the opposition, especially the MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai. At times the offending language used by the state media against opposition figures, is similar to what Baba Jukwa used in hitting back at ZANU PF officials.
‘There is absolutely nothing wrong with citizens using social media to articulate and propagate lawful, peaceful and decent information that is relevant in the socio-economic and political development in the country.
‘Only fascist and totalitarian regimes are fearful of the potent power and influence that lies in the use of social media, particularly in the peaceful and constitutional struggle for political and socio-economic emancipation,’ added Gutu.
A social commentator said attempts to expose Baba Jukwa might be meant to make everyone in Zimbabwe afraid of trying to use social media for ‘regime change.’
There has been a rapid growth of mobile social networking in Zimbabwe, with almost a quarter of the 8.8 million subscribers to Econet Wireless, using social networking site WhatsApp.