The beleaguered editor of the Bulawayo-based State media The Chronicle Mduduzi Mathuthu has fled Zimbabwe amid reports of crack-down on the Baba Jukwa family witch-hunt.
Mr Mathuthu is the sidekick of Information Minister Professor Jonathan Jonathan Moyo who was yesterday summoned by police to give a statement on Baba Jukwa.
The journalist who sought asylum in the UK over a decade ago before setting up the popular New Zimbabwe.com website was hired by the same government he fled from and was the editor of the state owned Chronicle newspaper in Bulawayo.
Sources said Mathuthu has since fled Zimbabwe and is back in Europe.
A message posted on a social network believed to be from Mr Mathuthu himself said: – “I decided to run away before the commotion would start’. God, thank you for the journey from Bulawayo to wherever kkk. Thank you for the little and big milestones that have happened in my life. I am back in Europe. But what a year of learning and growing! I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
It is not clear when Mathuthu left Zimbabwe but an itinerary on his movements reveals that:
Mduduzi was at Frankfurt Airport 17 July at 05:15 in Frankfurt, Germany when he posted this message. Mduduzi Mathuthu was travelling to OR Tambo Airport from Joshua Mqabuko International airport. 16 July at 11:27.
On Thursday Mr Mduduzi Mathuthu said: “Just woke up to sad, sad news that Chronicle business editor. Mernat Mafirakureva died in car accident last night.” In the Herald Chronicle acting editor Innocent Madonko expressed shock and sadness at the tragic loss of Business Editor Mr Mernat Mafirakureva, describing him as an intelligent, hardworking, humble and dedicated journalist who had left a big void which would be difficult to fill.”
Someone asked him on his Wall on 16 July and Mr Mduduzi Mathuthu replied: “Off again Cde Asanda. #London-bound”.
On a twitter exchange Mr Mathuthu posted that RT : “Pres Mugabe complains his speech is not in order at launch of teacher capacity development programme. Page 1 is missing.”
On Wednesday Professor Moyo was been summoned by the police to answer questions on what he knows about the popular but mysterious Facebook blogger Baba Jukwa.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba has previously stated that no ministers would be targeted as part of investigations into Baba Jukwa.
“The police wish to inform the public that there are no ministers targeted in the investigations,” she said in June.
“It is improper for the media to carry out stories that suggest any minister, parliamentarian, government official and members of the ruling party are being targeted. Actually, they were at the receiving end and were victims.”
However, on Wednesday the ZRP spokesperson was not so categorical when asked to confirm whether Moyo had been summoned for questioning.
Charamba said she knew nothing about the development but, when pressed further, added: “I never said there is nothing like that; I only said I don’t know”.
Sources however, said state media journalists were inadvertently alerted to the move by the police after they were called by Moyo to his Munhumutapa Building offices to cover a courtesy call by a Chinese delegation.
“While the journalists were waiting at the reception in Moyo’s office, two detectives came in and told the minister’s secretary that they wanted to summon Moyo to the CID law and order section over Baba Jukwa,” a source said.
Last month President Mugabe branded Moyo a “devil incarnate” while accusing him of appointing editors of state-owned newspapers who were sympathetic to the opposition. Mugabe accused Moyo of using the government-controlled newspapers to sow divisions with the ruling Zanu PF party.
Mugabe also complained that Zanu PF had been infiltrated by “weevils” (a crop pest) bent on destroying the party from within. The Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa later urged party youths in Mutare to use gamatox (a lethal pesticide) to deal with the alleged “weevils”.
One of the editors appointed by Moyo is Edmund Kudzayi who was in charge at the Sunday Mail newspaper. Kudzayi was arrested last month on allegations that it was him and brother Philip who were running the Baba Jukwa page and had planned to topple the Mugabe regime using a so-called Gunda-Nleya Brigade.
If Moyo is indeed questioned or arrested by the police it would represent a U-turn by the police force after its national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba last month issued a statement saying “The police wish to inform the public that there are no ministers targeted in the investigations.”
“It is improper for the media to carry out stories that suggest any minister, parliamentarian, government official and members of the ruling party are being targeted. Actually, they were at the receiving end and were victims,” she added.
So far the police are pointing fingers at about 14 people including Edmund and Philip Kudzayi, Wilf and Trish Mbanga, Mxolisi Ncube, Mkululi Chimoio, Chawarika Matongorere, Samson Chifamba, Walter Shoko; George Chirakasha, Anomie Drew, Piniel Nhokodi, Romeo Musemburi and Sarudzai Florence.
Mbanga has already rubbished the allegations as ‘misguided’ and said the police were on a phishing expedition. “They only have to read a copy of the Sunday Mail of May 11th where my hacked email exchange with Baba Jukwa was published. This clearly shows that I had nothing to do with the said Facebook page.”
“The Sunday Mail itself claimed that I had been duped into paying my own reporters to publish some of Baba Jukwa’s exposes that were already on Facebook and the Internet. Why would I offer to pay for something if I was an administrator?” Mbanga said in his statement.
Ncube and Chimoio were the first to be accused by the state media of being Baba Jukwa. The two however denied any involvement and instead hired Harare lawyer Obert Gutu to file lawsuits against the publications who made the claims.
After a serialization by the state media of what was meant to be hacked Baba Jukwa emails it was then that Edmund Kudzayi’s attempt to help the army track down the mystery blogger backfired and he was instead arrested. At least that is what he has claimed in his defence outline.
Ironically the Sunday Mail newspaper edited by Kudzayi was one of those who published the leaked Baba Jukwa emails, claiming then that they had evidence-linking journalists Ncube and Chimoio to the Baba Jukwa Facebook page.