Zanu PF breathes fire over Baba Jukwa

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Analysts have said the ugly factionalism bedevilling Zanu-PF could explode into deadly warfare after the minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Jonathan Moyo was reportedly grilled by police over the Baba Jukwa scandal yesterday.

Moyo was summoned by police in Harare where he was reportedly questioned about his connections with the Sunday Mail editor, Edmund Kudzayi, whom police believe is controversial Facebook blogger, Baba Jukwa, who caused mayhem in Zanu-PF last year by exposing the party's secrets.

The Baba Jukwa page became a mega hit with Zimbabweans and had over 400 000 likes on the page, where he wrote mostly accurate details about individuals in Zanu-PF and the party's "dirty secrets."

Prominent political analyst, Edmund Masunungure said: "The summoning of Moyo might be specific to him and not to all ministers. It is a certain political faction in Zanu-PF that is sending a message. I think he was under the watchful eye of certain powerful individuals.

"There may be individuals in Cabinet, in the central committee or the politburo who are targeting him, whatever it is, it is an interesting twist to factionalism in Zanu-PF.

"He was publicly identified by the President, the chief executive officer of the country and this questioning is a follow up to that public denunciation.

"We expected that it would come earlier, whoever was on the case was gathering information, this might be just the beginning of an investigation. This is not an onslaught on ministers, it is a signal that you do not go beyond certain parameters."

Renowned political commentator, Pedzisai Ruhanya said the succession battles are now playing out in the open ahead of the Zanu-PF congress in December.

"You have to understand why he was arrested.  If it is about the appointment of Kudzayi, it is clear that it is the board that makes such appointments. What I see are the succession battles playing out. This arrest or summoning is just dangerous and misguided behaviour by a faction meant to embarrass Moyo.

"It is about factions in Zanu-PF. It is not legally, procedurally or bureaucratically correct to deal with factionalism this way. If a certain faction wants to deal with Moyo, they should dismiss him from Cabinet. This is gamatox politics at play."

One of the analysts canvassed by the Daily News said while Zanu-PF had long been saddled by debilitating infighting, any possible suggestion that Moyo might be harassed or arrested by authorities over the Baba Jukwa could be "the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back" (with regards to infighting) within the party.

Johannesburg-based political commentator, Shephard Mntungwa weighed in and said factionalism in Zanu-PF had now degenerated into open warfare.

"There is no doubt that many senior and influential Zanu-PF leaders view Moyo with a lot of suspicion at best, hence the recent narrative in the party about 'Ggmatoxing' people like him. It is also clear that there have also been a lot of unsubstantiated suspicions about his possible links to the Baba Jukwa clan of faceless bloggers, hence president Mugabe's recent description of the minister as a weevil.

"The fact though is that Moyo is very smart and has played a very clever game since he came back to the party after spending many years in the political wilderness, as he himself has said. Not only has he played a very central role in consolidating Zanu-PF's power in recent years, he also apparently enjoys the support of influential power brokers such as some military bigwigs.

"If one takes all this into account, it is then logical to deduce that these powerful backers would not sit back if one of their team players is in trouble, as doing so would also leave them exposed in the medium to long run, which they wouldn't allow," said Mntungwa.

Moyo was not available for comment yesterday but according to Nehanda Radio, one of the external online media that reported on the story yesterday, Moyo was asked to present himself to the police in Harare yesterday.

"We got to know this by chance after Moyo himself invited State media journalists to his Munhumutapa Building offices to cover a courtesy call by a delegation from China National Radio.

"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 told Nehanda.

Mugabe recently branded Moyo a "devil incarnate" and accused him of appointing editors of State-owned newspapers who were allegedly sympathetic to the opposition. He also accused Moyo of using government-controlled newspapers to sow divisions within Zanu-PF.

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 Kudzayi, who is in charge at the Sunday Mail, but was arrested last month on allegations that he and his brother Philip were part of the syndicate running the Baba Jukwa page, in addition to planning to topple Mugabe from power using the so-called Gunda-Nleya Brigade.

Moyo's questioning by police signifies a U-turn by the police after its national spokesperson assistant commissioner Charity Charamba last month issued a statement denying that there were any ministers targeted in 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 said then.

So far the police have pointed 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 in the Baba Jukwa saga.

On his part, Mbanga has rubbished the allegations as misguided and said the police were on a fishing expedition.

"They only have to read a copy of the Sunday Mail of May 11th where my hacked e-mail exchange with Baba Jukwa was published. This clearly shows that I had nothing to do with the said Facebook page," he said.

"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, who were the first to be accused by the State media of being Baba Jukwa, have also denied any involvement and instead hired Harare lawyer Obert Gutu to file lawsuits against the publications which made the claims.

Kudzayi is out on $5 200,00 bail.


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