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REVELATIONS that Baba Jukwa is neither a senior Government official nor even live in Zimbabwe have come as no small surprise. On Saturday evening computer hackers with suspected links to the intelligence services released a catalogue of data that included personal emails, pictures, phone numbers and strategic documents belonging to the Baba Jukwa syndicate.

It is believed the data was seized in a hacking operation that saw the unknown assailants take control of an email (babajukwa2013@gmail.com) that had been used by Baba Jukwa in soliciting for funding. Once access was gained to the email account the attackers then followed a number of clues, chief among which were an email account and mobile number set-up as part of Google’s two-step verification and account recovery system.

The email and phone number were found to be bona-fide and led them straight to Mxolisi Ncube and Mkhululi Chimoio, two journalists who serve as correspondents for The Zimbabwean newspaper. They are based in South Africa. The investigation culminated in Saturday evening’s dramatic release of a catalogue of data linking the pair to the Baba Jukwa page with compelling evidence and an accompanying video posted on YouTube which showed the attackers in control and searching through Baba Jukwa’s email account, reading through his various exchanges with collaborators.

What has come as a surprise to many is not the dramatic nature of these revelations but the complete contradiction between what Baba Jukwa claimed to be and what he (they) actually is. Far from being a senior official that rubs shoulders with the power players in Zimbabwe the two are obscure journalists of no repute that work for a newspaper of equally flimsy repute.

The revelations have turned many who were previously sympathetic to Baba Jukwa against him. In one email the two discuss how Zimbabweans are “fools” that do not know a good thing when they see it. This complaint had been set off by the fact that they had only managed to collect US$30 on that particular day despite having close to half a million likes on their Facebook page.

Other documents show that the two received up to seven transfers in one day. This money was ostensibly meant to contribute to the development of a new mega media platform that Baba Jukwa would use to teach Mugabe and Zanu-PF a lesson. It is unclear how much money was actually received or what became of the funds but what is clear is that they made money.

The two journalists were especially cunning and had no qualms about sucking their employer Wilf Mbanga into the con. He was also made to pay believing that he was actually working with a top Zanu-PF official that would help him raise the profile of his newspaper. This is the background of what has happened but it is of little importance. My concern is how we were so easily taken in by this deception.

In the run-up to the July 31 harmonised elections last year major newspapers like NewsDay and The Daily News afforded Baba Jukwa front page space. What Baba Jukwa said was gospel truth to them. If Baba Jukwa said Kasukuwere wanted to kidnap someone tomorrow it was accepted as gospel truth, no questions asked. If Baba Jukwa said the President was planning to poison beneficiaries of the presidential scholarship (a bizarre allegation he (Baba Jukwa) actually made) all this was said to be true. Is this what has become of journalism in this country? I can understand the general population being misled but I cannot for the life of me understand how entire newspapers were taken in by this cheap scam?

I knew something was not right when Baba Jukwa set up a Paypal account and began soliciting donations. The alarm bells started ringing immediately. The questions that came to my mind were pretty obvious: If Baba Jukwa is claiming to be a senior Government official that has tea with the President then why does he have to ask for donations on the Internet? I would have thought that this is the question that journalists would ask?

The solicitation for funds was the more obvious discrepancy but there were a number of things that I just found suspicious. In one post Baba Jukwa claimed that he was coming from the Air Force base and had just inspected a number of planes that were grounded and unable to fly. Mugabe was finished, he said.

If Baba Jukwa were indeed a senior Government official as he claimed and he had actually been inspecting aircraft in his official capacity then it would be pretty obvious who he was? His fellow officials would simply read the post and immediately establish his identity. Is this logic not elementary? For some reason all these contradictions went unnoticed.

We really are a nation of gullible fools. If there is any lesson to be learnt from this it is that we need to learn how to ask questions. Baba Jukwa made fools of us all.

Source : The Herald

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