The irony was obviously lost to The Sunday Mail, as it carried sensational claims exposing the identity of Baba Jukwa, whose “wife” Amai Jukwa resides in the newspapers of the glass and mortar building, to borrow from one Dr CZ.
GUEST COLUMNIST RASHWEAT MUKUNDU
Furthermore, The Sunday Mail carried an editorial calling for more Internet surveillance laws and intrusion into citizen’s online activities allegedly to curb “dangerous” content while in the same newspaper a sizeable part was dedicated to covering the alleged bad behaviour of the British intelligence in its surveillance activities that allegedly included hacking and sharing propagandist online content to cause trouble.
While seemingly attacking its mortal enemy the British, The Sunday Mail calls for intrusive Internet policies that, as it states, would ensure that malicious content is stopped and those involved arrested.
The few countries that the newspaper quote for their successful control of the Net are rightfully guilty of Internet freedom violations this including the Chinese government that blocks all forms of online discussions or content on the Tiananmen Square protests, Tibet and the Dalai Lama among many other such “controversial” subjects.
As the newspaper rightfully notes, the Turkish government has banned YouTube and other related platforms with a view of stemming rising discontent with the government of Tayyip Erdogan.
The question is: Should Zimbabwe follow suit in putting a firewall across its territory simply to stop or sniff out Baba Jukwa? Baba Jukwa represents all that is stupid and naive in Zimbabwean society for he was taken seriously by those who started with the malice and those hoping for change.
It cannot be denied that Baba Jukwa was a response to Amai Jukwa, who still exists today and is granted space in The Herald every Monday to rail against everyone within and outside Zanu PF who disagree with “her” views.
When Amai Jukwa started, “she” equally made a lot of unsubstantiated claims against the MDC-T calling its leader all sorts of names.
Baba Jukwa was created by whosoever made a decision to counter Amai Jukwa and in the end we had a whole lot of the Jukwa clan from Jukwa’s mistresses, children and friends joining the bandwagon of propagating hate and malice.
So if there is any guilty element it is Amai Jukwa whom the State-owned media knows as it interacts with “her” week in week out. In as much as Wilf Mbanga of The Zimbabwean might have been duped by Baba Jukwa, are we also not supposed to ask why The Herald continues giving space to the nameless and faceless Amai Jukwa?
If Amai Jukwa believes in “her” convictions and is prepared to make an open contribution to national debate on various issues, why does she not come out in the open? If The Sunday Mail seriously believes that malicious online content must be stopped and those behind it exposed, then surely let the identity of Amai Jukwa exposed and the weekly column penned by Amai Jukwa be stopped.
The State media started with the whole nonsense of faceless people who attack others behind anonymity. Key being Nathaniel Manheru who week in week out dedicates acres of space to attacking the opposition MDC and the West. Manheru is oblivious to the reality of Zanu PF’s scorched earth economic policies, but sees everything wrong with everyone else except President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.
What is good for the goose must be good for the gander. For the State media and Zanu PF, Baba Jukwa is classic case of chickens coming home to roost. They started the media phenomenon of attacking personalities and organisations in the most vile and foul manner only to cry the loudest with the emergence of Baba Jukwa who completed the disjointed and warring family of the Jukwas.
The Baba Jukwa phenomenon was created by the State media and Zanu PF through its Amai Jukwa and Manheru pages. No normal person really took Baba Jukwa seriously except those whose politics is defined by malice and rumour-mongering. It is not surprising therefore that Baba Jukwa was promoted by none other than the State media and Zanu PF and I am sure the State intelligence, which probably had a torrid time trying to unmask and stop Baba Jukwa.
Despite his rantings, Baba Jukwa became an outlet for frustrated citizens who wrote on his Facebook page to share as many stories of rights abuses and corruption among many social ills. While there is everything wrong with posting people’s names, phone numbers, family members and making unsubstantiated claims, these should never have been taken seriously by Zanu PF, State agents and its supporters.
It is Zanu PF and its leaders who made Baba Jukwa and gave him international fame because of their fear of the truth and fear of engaging in frank and open debate on the direction of Zimbabwe. It is those who operate in secrecy and darkness who see shadows lurking everywhere. Had Baba Jukwa been ignored and taken as a joke, then he would simply have disappeared, but Zanu PF and the State media took him seriously because they share the same world defined by malice and rumour-mongering.
Interference in the operations of the Internet, including surveillance and filtering of content, is frowned upon by citizens as it is an attempt to control how citizens think, access and share information. Even as China is notorious for its firewall, its citizens are daily engaged in battles to breach it.
Zanu PF and its mouthpieces in the State media are better advised to stick to the agenda of national development and not waste State resources on pursuing showy online faces.
Zimbabwe has enough in its arsenal to deal with genuine State threats be they online or physical, and there is no need for anything more.
Meanwhile, we hope the State media will expose who Amai Jukwa is, so that this haunted family can finally find some peace and, better still, be taken for the joke they are.