The editor of The Zimbabwean, Wilf Mbanga, has dismissed as misguided, police intentions to investigate him in connection with the shadowy Facebook character, Baba Jukwa.
Police on Friday issued a statement saying they wanted Mbanga and his wife for questioning in connection with Baba Jukwa, an online platform that sensationally exposed grim developments and activities in Zanu-PF ahead of last year's general elections.
The two are being accused of being part of the team that administered the Baba Jukwa Facebook page.
Also wanted are seven other individuals based abroad, among them Mxolisi Ncube, a South Africa-based journalist who corresponds for The Zimbabwean, a system and software engineer based in the United Kingdom (UK), Walter Shoko and a computer programmer based in the UK, Samson Chifamba.
George Chirakasha, Anomie Drew, Piniel Nhokodi, Romeo Musemburi and Sarudzai Florence all based abroad complete the police list of wanted persons.
"All the accused persons are administrators to firstname.lastname@example.org and Baba Jukwa Facebook page. This is the reason why the Baba Jukwa Facebook page is still active. The wanted persons are based in various global locations and network to post subversive articles on this person," Charity Charamba, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) spokesperson, said in the statement.
Mbanga, in response, denied being involved in the Baba Jukwa project, saying earlier reports had in fact portrayed him as a victim of those behind the platform.
On May 11, the Sunday Mail alleged that Mbanga had been tricked by reporters writing for The Zimbabwean—Ncube and Mkhululi Chimoio – to make payments to publish the Facebook column. The story claimed that it had received the information from unnamed hackers.
"The police seem to be 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?" said Mbanga in his statement.
He said he was willing to cooperate with the police in their investigations.
"I am more than willing to cooperate with the police and help them in any way with their investigations. But I can assure them right now that nobody from The Zimbabwean was involved in any way with the administration of the BJ Facebook page," he said.
Added Mbanga: "None of the names mentioned in the statement below are known to me. I don't even know either of the Kudzayi brothers."
Edmund Kudzayi, the Sunday Mail editor, and his brother, Phillip Tawanda, have already been arrested and appeared in court where they are being held in custody for allegedly attempting to subvert a constitutionally elected government.
They State has alleged that they used the Baba Jukwa online page to mobilise people to rebel against the government.