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ANXIETY has gripped the ruling ZANU-PF as the net closes in on suspected informants accused of sharing party secrets, some of them of a security nature, with hitherto faceless Facebook character, Baba Jukwa, ahead of last year’s harmonised elections, the Financial Gazette can report. With the main opposition party in sixes and sevens, rocked by internal discord likely to spill into the courts, ZANU-PF is this time around ready to throw caution to the wind by taking action against those who supped with Baba Jukwa given that the revolutionary party is presently under no internal or external threat other than that posed by a sickly economy.

Ahead of the previous two elections, in 2008 and 2013, the party exercised restraint in the wake of explosive revelations that some within its rank and file had been passing information prejudicial to its interests to the opposition and Western diplomats. The worst revelations were made by WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing website, which released a trove of confidential United States embassy cables that deeply impacted on Washington’s foreign policy interests.

Several ZANU-PF heavyweights had their names tainted for attending clandestine and unsanctioned meetings with US diplomats based in Harare at the time where they shared party secrets while denigrating their leadership, among other things. Fearing an implosion within its ranks ahead of do-or-die elections, ZANU-PF’s Politburo resolved to ignore the cables in order to confront a troublesome Movement for Democratic Change at the elections as a united force.

Buoyed by its total control of the domestic political situation by virtue of its dominance in Parliament and grip on the Executive apparatus of government, the Politburo, which is the supreme decision-making body of ZANU-PF in between congresses, resolved, at its recent meeting, that those found to be on the wrong side of the law with regards to the Baba Jukwa leaks should face the music.

The Politburo was again meant to meet on Tuesday this week but had its meeting deferred following the death of brigadier general John Zingoni, who died in Gweru last Friday and was declared a national hero. Zingoni was buried at the National Heroes Acre. The ruling ZANU-PF, according to insiders, has a team of information technology experts contracted late last year to work on this particular project and has been working flat out to get to the bottom of the issue.

Zimbabwe already has a law in its statutes that enables it to snoop on telephone and e-mail messages and use the information gleaned through spying for its operations. This information is now admissible as evidence in court. Didymus Mutasa, ZANU-PF’s secretary for administration, said yesterday that the law would have to take its course. He said: “Anyone found guilty of leaking information to Baba Jukwa will be punished. The appropriate punishment will have to be determined by a judge in a court of law since that is considered a crime against the nation.”

While admitting that the feeling in the party was that its members collaborated with Baba Jukwa, party spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, said the matter had become insignificant after last year’s elections. “I am not interested in the Baba Jukwa issue because despite what they said, ZANU-PF won the elections resoundingly,” he said.

“I do not want to waste time commenting on insignificant issues. The key issue now is how do we turnaround the economy? How do we implement the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation blueprint? That is the focus of attention in the party, not some faceless figure,” he added.

But party insiders maintained this week that the decision to sniff out informants was made after press claims that hackers had discovered that two Zimbabwean journalists working in South Africa, Mxolisi Ncube and Mkululi Chimoio were the administrators of the shadowy Baba Jukwa Facebook page which published sensational information discrediting the party and mobilising the masses against ZANU-PF in the run up to last year’s elections.

The two are, however, denying any links to the page and have since hired Harare lawyer Obert Gutu, of Gutu and Chikowero Legal Practitioners to represent them in the lawsuit they are preparing against one of the State weeklies. Panic reached higher levels this week following claims that authorities have identified five people, three of whom are in Harare, as Baba Jukwa’s collaborators amid indications that these would now lead the investigators to their informants. Party insiders told this paper that the latest developments have triggered alarm within ZANU-PF’s rank and file amid fears that the witch-hunt could further ignite factional infighting ahead of the elective congress set for December this year.

“People are restless. Everyone is afraid of being targeted, particularly the office workers,” said a ZANU-PF member who declined to be named for security reasons. Fears are rife that some could use this hunt as a way to implicate others with neither merit nor proof and this could be manipulated to settle factional scores. There are long held perceptions of the existence in the party of two main rival factions, one led by Vice President Joice Mujuru and the other by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa have since denied leading factions.

“The fear is that some might use this tool to outdo each other ahead of the congress in December,” said a source.

“We foresee a situation whereby anyone fingered in the issue will claim to be targeted by factional party politics and heads will definitely roll,” he added.

The latest drama reminds many in ZANU-PF of a case in which three party officials were jailed for spying on the party for South African intelligence.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador-designate to Mozambique Godfrey Dzvairo was among the officials who were condemned to prison for breaching the Official Secrets Act.

Source : Financial Gazette

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