via Baba Jukwa: The boomerang effect | The Zimbabwean 25 June 2014 by Mxolisi Ncube
“If I hold my peace and let the Lord fight my battles, I know that the victory shall be mine.” This became, and still is, my silent prayer, after my name and that of my closest friend, Mkhululi Chimoio, were dragged into the Baba Jukwa fiasco and our lives threatened.
I know the storm is not over yet, but I can feel God’s might at work. So, this could be time for me to tell my story first-hand, as has been the request of many Facebook friends and readers.
It was barely 24 hours after my return from a media conference in Uganda, when I received a Facebook inbox message from one Gilbert Takarehwa Nyambabvu, whom I later learnt was editor of online publication, newzimbabwe.com.
The message, to which I did not respond, said “Cde, been trying to reach you – The Sunday Mail will claim tomorrow that you are Baba Jukwa. Tried to ring you but failed to get through.”
A few hours later, the story was out on newzimbabwe.com and a video had been posted on Youtube, shoddily linking me to Baba Jukwa. The Sunday Mail did its part the following day, followed by The Herald on the Monday. None of the publications had sought my side of the story before publishing this very serious allegation.
The following month saw a dramatic change in my life. None of my three mobile phones could sustain power for more than two hours and I could not be online on any of the social networks. If it was not friends and relatives calling to express solidarity, it would be journalists and strange people saying whatever they felt I needed to hear.
My first impression was that the stories I had written about Baba Jukwa had put me in the CIO radar. Whoever had linked me to him thought I had met the face behind the dodgy “rogue CIO member”, yet I also wished I had.
I granted interviews to some Zimpapers journalists and even showed a newzimbabwe.com reporter clear evidence that I was not part of the Jukwa fiasco, but none of the responses I gave ever saw the light of day – except for a one-on-one interview I granted Newsday.
Day after day, Chimoio and I were falsely accused of a crime we did not commit and publicly vilified, with the state papers turning our denial into a “confession.” My nine-year career as a police journalist was dug up and used to portray me as a bandit trainer and war-planner, spiced-up with the chats between Baba Jukwa and his apparent ally, Sahwira wa Baba Jukwa.
I turned down a request from a Zimpapers journalist I was once really close to, who had apparently been assigned to do an up-close and-personal feature on me. I got the hint that the journalists were “forced” to write the stories about us, me in particular, by a senior government minister. I realised it would be very hard to argue my innocence, so together with Chimoio, I approached lawyer Obert Gutu to represent us.
Although I tried to keep my eyes off the news, friends and relatives would still bring it to my attention through posting links to me on social networks, or sending the stories to my wife. This put a lot of strain on our lives.
Those who cared advised us to leave South Africa or to stay out of Facebook. I do not belong to a generation of cowards and, as this seemed to be a ploy meant to silence us, I vowed to stay put. I refused to accept that it was the whole Zanu (PF) that wanted to get us.
When people like Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa seemed to favour a thorough investigation rather than the rushed extradition that the Zimpapers were pushing for, it gave me hope. I knew I was innocent and so a proper investigation would clear me.
But the call by these two officials did not immediately free me from the false accusations and vilification as a bandit who had swapped his pen for the sword. I have never been a member of any political party, but I was accused of being MDC-T. I was also linked with meetings with that party’s officials, some of who I have never met and others with whom I have clashed during the course of my work as a journalist. Millions of dollars were thrown around as amount of money I had been advanced to “overthrow” Zanu (PF) from power.
So, when Sunday Mail editor, Edmund Kudzayi, was arrested last week, on allegations that he was “the real Baba Jukwa”, my question was – Why does Zanu (PF) believe their “rogue spy” is a journalist?
Having gone through his posts, spellings and grammar, Baba Jukwa writes too badly to be a journalist. Should we continue to ululate whenever one of our own is “tried” for this “crime”? If so, we would all bear the Jukwa scars before the real culprit is apprehended.
Kudzayi might be Amai Jukwa, Baba Jukwa, or both, but fact is – he is a Jukwa and either of those characters did post something defamatory to some Zanu (PF) officials. After newzimbabwe.com, the Sunday Mail, under his editorship, was also the first and most lethal in attacking the innocent – myself and Chimoio. What goes around does indeed come around.