By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
23 June 2014
The editor of the Sunday Mail Edmund Kudzayi, accused by the state of being the Facebook character Baba Jukwa, appeared in court on Monday and was remanded in custody to July 7th pending his bail application at the High Court.
Kudzayi’s lawyer Admire Rubaya indicated that he would be filing an application to the High court on Monday seeking his release from custody.
This was Kudzayi’s second court appearance since he was arrested last week and charged with ‘attempting to subvert a constitutionally elected government, undermining the authority of the President and contravening the Firearms Act’.
He first appeared before a Harare magistrate on Saturday where he was looking jovial and sharing jokes with journalists covering his initial court appearance. But on Monday Kudzayi, wearing the khaki prison garb and barefoot, was looking dejected and subdued, according to our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa.
Muchemwa told us the state is accusing Kudzayi of running the Baba Jukwa page on Facebook. The blog made controversial ‘exposés’ of alleged political plots by ZANU PF officials and State security agents.
At one time ZANU PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo admitted that the information churned out by Baba Jukwa was correct, implying BJ was someone working within the ZANU PF system.
On Sunday Gumbo confirmed that Kudzayi, a software developer who lived in the United Kingdom until last year, was part of their election campaign team. The Baba Jukwa blog was created in April 2013, three months before the elections. Kudzayi, headhunted by Information Jonathan Moyo, was appointed editor of the Sunday Mail in April this year.
Itai Dzamara, editor of the News Leader a weekly online publication, accused Moyo of convincing Kudzayi to ‘leave the comfort of the UK and come to the valley of shadow of death, used and dumped him into the depths of hell.’
The paper reported on Monday that the police have gathered evidence linking Jonathan Moyo to the Baba Jukwa network.
‘As the saga rages on we can reveal that engagements are going on, deliberating about Moyo, another government minister and two top military officials, who are believed to have been identified as the top team of the Baba Jukwa network. The ministers and military officials are said to have been implicated in the group that provided top information for the Facebook page,’ the paper added.
But political commentator Tanonoka Joseph Hwande believes Kudzayi’s arrest is linked to the ZANU PF factional fighting. He said the factional fights within ZANUPF are now being fought in the media and could be the beginning of a serious effort to further control journalists and castrate the media.
Taking a dig at Moyo for not standing up to Kudzayi’s incarceration, Hwande said it was insulting when on Friday Jonathan Moyo himself broke his silence on the hunt and arrest of his editors.
‘Unbelievably, Moyo said that there was nothing sinister about the Sunday Mail editor’s arrest,’ said Hwande, adding ‘I would kill my boss if he so much as uttered this rubbish while I stand there in handcuffs. What a boss Jonathan Moyo is.’
Writing in the state media on Monday Chronicle editor, Mduduzi Mathuthu, confirmed that Kudzayi is actually Amai Jukwa – the exact opposite of Baba Jukwa. He wrote: Unexpectedly, I got a message from Mai Jukwa. “She” wanted us to meet at a hotel in Harare. By appointment, I met Mai Jukwa. It was not a she, but a he! He was Edmund Kudzayi, now the editor of The Sunday Mail.