Sunday Mail editor, Edmund Kudzayi, appeared in court Saturday in Harare facing charges of terrorism, sabotage, banditry and subverting a constitutionally elected government.
Kudzayi did not enter a plea when he appeared in court, two days after his arrest. He was ordered held until a bail hearing Monday.
Prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare told journalists that “Kudzayi is facing two charges; the first one is subverting the constitutional government; attempting to commit an act of terrorism, insurgency, banditry or sabotage."
Zvekare added that, “The second one is undermining authority or insulting the president.” He noted that Kudzayi’s Facebook page referred to Mugabe as a tyrant or a dictator who stole elections.
Prior to last year’s election, Kudzayi was based in Britain. He and Mduduzi Mathuthu, who now edits a sister paper called the Chronicle, used to run several online newspapers critical of Mugabe.
The editor was also charged with failing to properly secure firearms. He faces life in prison if convicted of all the charges.
The state claims that sometime in April 2013, Kudzayi connived with his elder brother, Philip Tawanda Kudzayi, and others who are still at large and hatched a plan to overthrow the Zimbabwe government by unconstitutional means in the run up to the 2013 July 31st general election.
He is accused of creating a gmail account called firstname.lastname@example.org using an Econet line registered in the name of Philip Tawanda Kudzayi.
The state claims that the gmail account was used to create a Facebook account called Baba Jukwa.
It also claims that the accused planned and organized with other accused persons calling themselves, The Gunda Nleya Brigade and Zimbabwe Revolutionary Army, to overthrow the government through waging war and urged people to join the Zimbabwe Revolutionary Army.
Part of the charge sheet, according to the state-controlled media reads in part, “The accused posted articles on the Baba Jukwa Facebook page which encouraged rebellion against the government if the 2013 election is stolen.”
On the firearms charges, the state claims that Kudzai failed to secure nine rounds of ammunition found in his office drawer at Herald House. He has a firearms certificate.
The government claimed recently that it had identified at least two people who were linked with the Baba Jukwa Facebook account, which released “sensitive” information about President Robert Mugabe’s party and government ahead of the 2013 election.
The two were said to be journalists based in South Africa.
Some of the information included allegations that soldiers who attempted to stage a coup in Zimbabwe were killed by firing squad, details on President Mugabe’s suspected health problems linked to cancer, succession issues in Zanu PF and plans to steal the July 2013 election.
Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe has instituted one of Africa's toughest media laws which has resulted in a crackdown on journalists. The government has indicated that it wants to repeal or amend some of the laws in line with the new constitution enacted last year, though journalism advocates doubt the government’s sincerity.
Baba Jukwa was placed on Zimbabwe’s top wanted list with a $300,000 price tag for his or her arrest. Baba Jukwa was not available for comment as the person running the Facebook account did not respond to VOA messages.
This was the last message posted by Baba Jukwa on June 16, 2014.
Baba Jukwa shared a link. June 16 · Edited Great Zimbabweans, the really war vets are not enjoying fruits of their hard work, but only the bogus ones are making a lot of noise while they never participated in any liberation struggle. No one is going anywhere, kindly continue liking our page Jonathan Moyo for President 2018 on facebook. Our train cant be derailed by fake warvets, together we can. I urge you out there to get hold of Wilfred Mhanda book for the really stuff on really warvets. Asijiki! Ndatenda Baba Jukwa"