A sizeable number of Zimbabweans were yesterday taken for the equivalent of an April Fool's Day prank by the shadowy Faceless character known as Baba Jukwa.The MDC-T activist, who claims to be a disgruntled Zanu-PF member, splashed Presidential spokesman Mr George Charamba's cellphone number on his Facebook page claiming it was President Mugabe's cellphone number and urging his followers to call the President.
In his message accompanying the supposed President's cellphone number, Baba Jukwa claimed that he was being pestered by a lot of people itching to have the number.
He urged people to phone President Mugabe and urged them to use foreign numbers or hide their identities. The idea of course was to harass President Mugabe and indeed to project him as a despot. Several Zimbabweans, particularly those domiciled in South Africa and the United Kingdom, fell for the faceless character's shenanigans.
Mr Charamba's cellphone yesterday recorded an upwards of more than 200 calls mostly with access codes +27 and +44. Some were using local numbers from across all networks.
There was a striking correspondence about the message from the "President's" callers with all beginning with "Can I talk to the President." Some were texting short messages while others were just beeping.
But alas, a platform which Baba Jukwa created with an inherent intention that people would attack and lambast the President Mugabe boomeranged in a spectacular way.
The results were the exact opposite because the number he used which is not President Mugabe's number, anyway, has now become a platform for solidarity messages with the President.
People took the opportunity to express their congratulations to President Mugabe for his colossal victory in the July 31 harmonised elections.
Some were just curious to talk to the President and none of them abused the platform to criticise him. One of the text messages sent by the "President's" callers read: "I am grateful to have the phone number of a great man. Congratulations for winning the elections resoundingly."
"I am proud to tell you that I voted for the people's party Zanu-PF. I am proud to be a Zimbabwean led by you Mr President."
Another caller from the United Kingdom who identified herself as Lydia said: "Sir I just wanna say thank you for everything.
"I see you like my own father. You are our hero, our soldier and our light. I will always support you to be our leader."
Another man from South Africa who identified himself as Dumisani Xaba said: "Whoever that funny character is and if he thinks we are afraid to contact you well, he is lost.
"Isu tinoti long live Your Excellency, if this is your number. The whole world can desert you but I will never."
Mr Charamba yesterday said President Mugabe does not run a cellular line.
"He has never and all indications are that he will never run a cellular line," he said.
"Yes, we use our own cellphones sometimes to connect him to his interlocutors but he has never been of the idea of running a cellphone." Mr Charamba said the cellphone number posted by Baba Jukwa was his and there was nothing secretive about it.
He said the number was in the public domain and there were no investigatory competences which Baba Jukwa claimed. Mr Charamba said the platform created by Baba Jukwa inadvertently had shown that people wanted to interact directly with the President. "It is getting me to think as his press secretary that given this desire on the part of the citizenry to interact with the President telephonically we might need to create a platform for that interaction between the Head of State and Government and the people," he said.
"It is something that we are seriously considering. Thanks to Baba Jukwa."
He however said he had also reported the matter to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.
Efforts to get a comment from Potraz were fruitless last night.