CC image courtesy of Nicolas Raymond on Flickr.
The pending 2013 general election has seemingly breathed life into social media in the country with whistleblower Baba Jukwa garnering a rapidly growing following on Facebook and political parties attempting to do the same.
The Zimbabwe Guardian, which claims to be independent through being controlled by individuals and is not “in any way affiliated to a political organisation or entity in Zimbabwe…” recently ran an article on how the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) is winning the social network “battle.”
According to the publication, ZANU-PF’s presence and campaigns within social media networks and online at large were almost non-existent in 2007 to 2008.
Now, according to the Zimbabwe Guardian, the “revolutionary party” is dominating the internet in the country.
The Zimbabwe Guardian’s independence and political affiliation comes into question with statements calling ZANU-PF the “revolutionary party” that is more organised and structured than the “haphazard outlets of the MDC-T (Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai).”
Furthermore, the Zimbabwe Guardian said the the belief ZANU-PF has no young supporters is a myth, which has been dispelled by the party’s social media following.
At the time of writing, the top three group search results for ZANU-PF on Facebook show “Team ZANU-PF 2013” has 12,821 likes, “ZANU-PF 2013 has 4,619 likes and the third result: “ZANU-PF” has 4,456 likes, which calculates to a total of 21,896.
The MDC-T Facebook search results showed their official Facebook page “MDC Zimbabwe” had a total of 29,482 likes at the time of writing and another page called “Movement for Democratic Change” had 1,150 likes, a combined total of 30,632, which is approximately 9000 likes more than ZANU-PF’s pages combined.
On Twitter @Zanu_PF, had 12,197 followers and @TeamZanuPF has 248 followers, while the opposition @mdczimbabwe has only 5,250 followers. While ZANU-PF is leading the number of followers on Twitter, but in terms of a Facebook following, it is neither here nor there between the two parties.
However, Baba Jukwa, the Zimbabwean watchdog on Facebook, has an enormous following on the social platform compared to both the major political parties in Zimbabwe.
He claims to be within president Robert Mugabe’s inner circle, is extremely critical of ZANU-PF and actively exposes alleged crimes and corruption on the part of Zimbabwe’s governing party.
Baba Jukwa has 281,000 likes on Facebook, which seemingly increases on a daily basis.
Not only has Baba Jukwa beaten both major political parties in Zimbabwe, he has more likes on Facebook than South African leaders, such as Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) who has 240,000 likes on Facebook and the African National Congress’ (ANC) Facebook page “MyANC” which has 22,704.
However, Baba Jukwa’s Twitter following is only at 4,621.
Despite Baba Jukwa’s popularity on Facebook, senior members of ZANU-PF take no heed of Baba Jukwa’s posts on Facebook and has been denounced by the state-owned Herald newspaper, best described as Mugabe’s mouthpiece.
Savior Kasukuwere, ZANU-PF member and minister of youth development told Reuters: “Baba Jukwa is a complete waste of time, completely idiotic.”
Kasukuwere added: “If you take Baba Jukwa seriously, you need your head examined. He’s targeting me at a personal level, but I’m not shaken by that rubbish. We are serious people. It’s just meant to discredit individuals.”
However, Baba Jukwa’s 281,000 likes on Facebook compared with the Herald’s 24,825 followers indicates the people of Zimbabwe are seeking an independent voice, which is not afraid to speak out against the government.