President Mugabe has quizzed Zanu-PF secretary for information Cde Rugare Gumbo on why police have not interrogated him in connection with the Baba Jukwa case, when he co-opted the main suspect in the saga into the ruling party’s 2013 elections campaign.
At last Thursday’s Politburo meeting in Harare, Zanu-PF’s First Secretary and President sought an update on the Baba Jukwa issue.
The Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi and his brother, Phillip, are accused of being behind the shadowy Facebook character and are answering to charges of terrorism, subversion and undermining the authority of the President through the Facebook account.
Kudzayi and Zanu-PF deputy director of information Cde Psychology Maziwisa were brought into the party’s ranks by Cde Gumbo.
Kudzayi said as much in his warned and cautioned statement to the police during investigations into the Baba Jukwa case.
And last week the President asked Cde Gumbo why police had not interrogated him and yet he featured so prominently in the matter.
It is understood that Cde Gumbo, visibly in shock, stammered that he did not know Kudzayi personally.
Police have called in Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, and his Environment, Water and Climate counterpart, Saviour Kasukuwere, in connection with the issue.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba and investigating officer Asst Comm Crispen Makedenge were yesterday not reachable on their mobile phones for comment.
Efforts to also seek comment from Police Comm-General Augustine Chihuri, Prosecutor-General Mr Johannes Tomana and Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi also met no success last night.
Yesterday, Cde Gumbo confirmed that the police had never questioned him, and added: “I don’t know Kudzayi personally. He was brought in by Maziwisa – he is the one who introduced him to me. I don’t know him.
“I only know of his involvement in adverts which were designed for the July 31 elections. He was just part of people who were working in the adverts but I did not work with him. He was never recruited by Zanu-PF. I think I only met the guy once or twice. I have absolutely nothing to do with Kudzayi.”
At an earlier Politburo meeting when asked how Cde Maziwisa had been recruited, Cde Gumbo informed members that the move had been cleared by party secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa.
However, in June Kudzayi told police: “In February 2013 I anonymously released a set of online election adverts in support of Zanu PF. There was … interest in my identity by the Zanu-PF information department.
“At that time I was unwilling to directly engage for fear of compromising my business interests in the United Kingdom so I contacted an old friend Mike Nyambuya Jnr, the son of Major-General Mike Nyambuya, and asked him to visit Zanu-PF HQ as an intermediary and find out what they wanted.
“He met Psychology Maziwisa the Zanu-PF deputy director of information who expressed an interest in engaging my media services in the development of election advertising material for Zanu-PF. I agreed and was immediately put in contact with Maziwisa.
“A few weeks later I received a phone call from Rugare Gumbo expressing a keen interest in my work; I subsequently met him and was deployed to work with Team Zanu-PF.”
A political analyst yesterday said it was “odd” that police had not quizzed Cde Gumbo despite Kudzayi’s statement, and the fact that he occupied a very senior position in the Zanu-PF hierarchy – particularly dealing with information.
“‘Baba Jukwa’ always said he had sources high up in Zanu-PF and surely it would only make sense for the police to interrogate all the senior officials with whom the accused is said to have interacted with closely.
“It is also interesting that ‘Baba Jukwa’ verbally abused and vilified senior officials starting with the President himself, and including Ministers Moyo and Kasukuwere and senior army officers. However, there was no vilification for the man in charge of Zanu-PF’s information department.
“It would be good for police to assist in ensuring there is greater clarity in this matter.”
Meanwhile, Cde Gumbo is understood to be coming under increasing pressure to “stop acting like a faction spokesperson and start acting like the party spokesperson”.
Several Politburo members who spoke to The Sunday Mail following the Politburo meeting said Cde Gumbo was being highly selective in representing the outcome of party deliberations.
“More and more of us believe that he is on a frolic of his own. He reports some things to the media, leaves out others, changes others still. He has become a factional spokesperson rather than a party spokesperson,” said one Politburo member.
Another added: “After the last meeting, he briefed the media only on those things he wanted the public to know. Then after that he took the unprecedented step of calling a Press conference in which he claimed the media were the ones being factional.”