June 10, 2013
After the social media driven revolution of Egypt, at least 46 activists were arrested in Zimbabwe for allegedly plotting a similar uprising in Zimbabwe. It was unlikely that Zimbabweans could replicate the Egyptian style violent uprising because of several factors. However, the Facebook character, Baba Jukwa
might have started a unique social media driven and nonviolent revolution in Zimbabwe.
Replicating the Egyptian style revolution in Zimbabwe is unlikely simply because Zimbabwe is not Egypt. The culture, demography, the politics and many other factors are all different. The population of Cairo, Egypt, where most of the uprising took place is 9 million while that of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe is only about 2 Million. The Zimbabwean police approach to violent uprising is significantly more brutal than that of the Egyptian state machinery. An uprising in Zimbabwe could be silenced faster than it starts. This list goes on…
When the ruling party insider who goes by the nom de guerre of Baba Jukwa, decided to post insider information on Facebook about the excesses of Zimbabwean megalomaniacs; the looting of diamonds and other sources of wealth, widespread assassinations of political opponents and other evil acts, he started a unique social media driven revolution.
When we first wrote about Baba Jukwa on April 19 2013, he had amassed about thirty thousand Facebook followers over several weeks of creating his fan page. We thought this was intriguing because we had not seen anybody who is not a celebrity or leading political figure gaining such a following in such a short space of time. As of today, barely two months later, the number of Baba Jukwa’s followers has grown by over 100 thousand to 136 thousand “likes”.
Baba Jukwa’s efforts to take advantage of ICT and expose evil machinations of the ruling elite in Harare is transforming into a movement. Many volunteers within the Harare government administration are said to be anonymously supplying confidential insider information to Baba Jukwa. Although the movement is nonviolent, it will most likely have the same impact as the Egyptian violent uprising.
The impact of Baba Jukwa’s movement can be gauged by the reaction of the Zimbabwean government. Some senior members of the ruling elite have offered huge sums of reward money for the exposure of the true identity of Baba Jukwa
. Baba Jukwa’s movement has caused so much despondency and pandemonium within the ruling elite that some are refraining from attending important government and party meetings lest whatever they discuss behind closed doors is shared on Facebook.
A few people suspected of being Baba Jukwa have been harassed and there is a real danger that some innocent people could be “eliminated” on suspicion that they are Baba Jukwa. In a private message to Baba Jukwa, a secret state security agent made a pensioned plea to him to cease his revelations on Facebook as this could endanger innocent people in the service, suspected of being Baba Jukwa. “There is now suspicion against everyone and this is not good for the country because we are no longer facing the protection of our country as a first priority…”, wrote the member of the secret service.
At a minimum, Baba Jukwa’s social media movement will prevent some of the evil plots by ruthless members of the ruling elite from materialising. One of Baba Jukwa’s recent revelations is that the army chief, Constantine Guvheya Chiwenga and one of the most ruthless, most ambitious and yet the most unpopular politician, Emerson Munangagwa, are being coached by former Ethiopian dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, on how to stage a coup des tart and rob the Zimbabwean people of their right to elect a government of their choice. If this claim is anything to go by (we have no reason to believe that Baba Jukwa can make this up), it is likely that the plot will be foiled because of the revelation. We don’t see this succeeding when it is already in the public domain.
ICT or social media in particular, provides a revolutionary platform to force political reforms in Africa. With some innovation, like the one demonstrated by Baba Jukwa, there may be no need for Egyptian style violent uprisings to force democratic reforms.