'Insider' leaks secrets from heart of Mugabe's Zimbabwe regime on Facebook

Days before election, Zimbabweans read allegations of corruption in ruling party

Zimbabwe’s national army chiefs are at “loggerheads”, it was reported this week, as they argue over public funds to be paid to them through various shell companies.

This unconfirmed report is the work of a “deep throat”, who claims to be revealing the murky dealings of the Mugabe regime.

With four days to go until the troubled southern African nation stages elections, hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are following the Facebook updates of an anonymous figure who writes under the moniker “Baba Jukwa”. The latest account concluded: “All soldiers be informed and take heed that there is no Zanu-PF [ruling party] leader who is not corrupt.” He then included the name and telephone number of the army’s head of public relations with the suggestion that readers call him “and ask him why are they being evil”.

The alleged insider has built a following of 280,000 in four months on the social media site. His updates blend plausible accusations of corruption with salacious gossip and tub-thumping opposition to Robert Mugabe, the country’s leader since independence in 1980. Baba Jukwa names and shames the shadowy cabal of politicians and securocrats in Mr Mugabe’s inner circle as well as their alleged local lackeys and thugs doing the grassroots intimidation of opposition activists. Clearly spooked, the state-controlled media has issued increasingly shrill denouncements that have merely encouraged more people to go online and see what all the fuss is about.

“Baba Jukwa’s thunder is waning as the stories become more and more ridiculous,” the government’s daily mouthpiece The Herald wrote recently after Baba Jukwa alleged that the country’s police chief, Augustine Chihuri, was secretly printing additional ballot papers. The paper continued by asserting that Zanu-PF would win the social media battle and “mere gossip ... can never translate into electoral victory”. What is left of Zimbabwe’s independent media is taking Baba Jukwa seriously. Newsday, a daily, wrote that “it will be naive to ignore what this Facebook character says as we go towards watershed elections”.

For all the online revelations and apocalyptic language on both sides, there is little sign that the vote on 31 July will deliver meaningful change. The five years since Zimbabwe’s last election delivered the country into a political crisis, eventually resolved with an unwieldy power-sharing government, have disappointed most observers.

In 2008 the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, defeated Mr Mugabe in the first round only to withdraw before the run-off, citing intimidation of his supporters by the state security apparatus. Since securing a role as Prime Minister, the former union leader has appeared to be outmanoeuvred at every turn by the older man. After Mr Mugabe broke constitutional rules to announce a snap election, Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was powerless to stop him. Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the regional political bloc, SADC, appealed to the 89-year-old President to delay the vote. In a trademark empty concession he appealed to his own supreme court to consider a delay and they regretfully declined.

The opposition approaches the elections more divided than at either of the last two outings. There are two iterations of the MDC with the smaller  faction led by Welshman Ncube, a  politician who has a relationship with Mr Tsvangirai that rivals his enmity with Mr Mugabe.

Mr Mugabe, who has measured his appearances on the campaign trail in an apparent concession to his age, has been nakedly populist when he has spoken. He told supporters at a rally earlier this week that it was his stand against homosexuality, rather than human rights abuses, corruption and the destruction of the economy, that had drawn criticism from Western powers. Denouncing homosexuals as “worse than goats, pigs and birds”, the former schoolteacher promised to uphold what he called African culture.

Any hopes the opposition may have of international help in the event of wholesale rigging look forlorn. Much will depend on regional power broker South Africa, where President Jacob Zuma responded to some public reservations about the conduct of the polls by his foreign policy adviser Lindiwe Zulu by firing her last week.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'