Felex Share — THE two journalists behind the Facebook page, Baba Jukwa, admitted to lying to their followers in addition to extorting an undisclosed amount of money to fund their project, a sensational cache of emails hacked from their Gmail account, firstname.lastname@example.org, revealed over the weekend.
The two, Mkhululi Chimoio and Mxolisi Ncube, work for the shadowy, Zimbabwean newspaper, published by Wilf Mbanga in Britain before being shuttled for sale in Zimbabwe.
The expose has come as an anti-climax to many who had been taken in by the Facebook character because of the complete contradiction between what he claimed to be, a senior Zanu-PF Politburo member, and what the pair are in real life, two struggling journalists who had no qualms conning their employer and unsuspecting followers of an indeterminate amount of money.
The two, last year, claimed that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF had put up a US$300 000 bounty on their heads but in an e-mail dated July 6, 2013 addressed to one Commander Milan, they owned up to lying about the alleged bounty.
"Did you see people say they can catch me with $300 000," Baba Jukwa wrote, "kikikiki I made that one up to cause chaos. Now everyone thinks they are really after me but they can't stop this freedom train commander. I got the money, thanks (sic) god for your support. Let me know if you need any resources from my end because we are in this together to the last day."
The sensational claims were picked up by some sections of the Zimbabwean and international media, among them CNN, BBC, ABC and the Daily Telegraph, who claimed Baba Jukwa had so unsettled Zanu-PF that a bounty had been put on his head.
Chimoio and Ncube also promoted the bounty line in their articles in The Zimbabwean where they claimed Zanu-PF had launched an operation code-named "Clean House" which they said was aimed at them along with CNN's Robin Curnow, the BBC's Andrew Harding and one Thuso Khumalo of Studio 7.
They also launched an appeal for funds through PayPal, an online payment platform, from their followers that they claimed would go towards funding a sustained media campaign against Zanu-PF.
They reassured their followers that the donations would remain a secret since the PayPal account they were using had been "opened and secured in Switzerland".
Though it is not clear how much Chimoio and Ncube made, the campaign did not appear to have brought the desired rewards as evidenced by an exchange between Baba Jukwa and another troll going by the name Sahwira waBaba Jukwa, who is believed to be Mkhululi Chimoio where Mxolisi berated their followers for not opening the purse strings.
In a Google chat dated May 30, 2013 with Sahwira WaBaba Jukwa and in response to his question on how the fundraising was going, Baba Jukwa complained that the money they had received through PayPal was too little.
"Not gud at all zimbos (colloquial for Zimbabweans) are fools they don't appreciate good things just imagine 30 dollars so far."
Despite this, the documents at hand show that they two received up to eight transfers in one day broken down as US$30, £36, and 60 Australian dollars.
This money was ostensibly meant to contribute to the development a new mega media platform to fight Zanu-PF.
It is unclear how much was actually realised or what it was used for but what is clear is that the two journalists made money even from their employer, Wilf Mbanga whom they duped into believing he was dealing with a senior Zanu-PF Politburo member.
The game Mbanga engaged Baba Jukwa as a columnist, and agreed to pay him for promoting his paper on his page.
Baba Jukwa was paid US$50 per article published by The Zimbabwean and an undisclosed amount of money for promoting the paper on the Facebook page.