Clip, crop, and share: It's the season of misinformation
On May 24 this year, Mathira Member of Parliament Rigathi Gachagua who is William Ruto's presidential running mate in the Kenya Kwanza coalition, stirred controversy with remarks he made on a live radio interview.
“Take the example of Kenya Airways," he said while championing for support of small businesses at the expense of loss-making corporates. "The government puts in billions every year into it. We are saying we dedicate KSh50 billion of this money to the Bottom Up economic model. Every constituency will receive KSh130 million. This money will be lent to bodaboda and mama mboga at 5% interest."
He continued: “…In other words, the country’s focus will change [if Kenya Kwanza assumes power]. We will grow the businesses of the ‘small’ entrepreneurs who constitute the majority. Instead of having one giant company called Safaricom paying taxes, we’d rather have more money invested in many small business people who will pay 30 times the amount of tax put together."
That last statement, captured on video, was cropped and shared online to drive misinformation that Gachagua was advocating for dismantling of Safaricom and subsequent distribution of its billions to 'mama mboga'. What was conveniently left out was Gachagua's next statement: "We are not discouraging investors, but are championing for the interests of the small businesses too."
When Azimio La Umoja Coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga was launching his manifesto on Monday June 6, he made a remark that has similarly been cropped and widely-shared to drive misinformation.
It pertains to the local textile industry and the importation of used clothing popularly known as 'Mitumba'. Raila, who is running on a joint ticket with Martha Karua, said his government will revive the cotton industry and subsequently boost local manufacturing, thus creating jobs and naturally killing the 'Mitumba' business.
"We will reintroduce cotton growing in large numbers in our country....[There are] so many parts of our country [in] which cotton is the only available cash crop. Our textile industry was killed through liberalization," he told the gathering at the Nyayo National Stadium.
It is the next statement that has been clipped and widely shared as to now define his view: "They [champions of liberalisation] brought ‘Mitumba’ to kill all our textile industries. Our people are only wearing clothes coming from outside the country that have been worn by people who are dead."
As expected, the remark has raised a ruckus online, particularly with members of Kenya Kwanza, Raila's key political opponents.
"I have been wondering why does GIKOMBA burn every now and then...Kumbe Kuna watu who wants hustlers out of it saying mitumba is for the dead people," says one Kenyan on Twitter.
And as was the case with Gachagua, Raila's critics have conveniently ignored the statement that followed the 'Mitumba dead people' remark: "We are going to go into primary production so that our people who are importing Mitumba can have good products to sell here. I am saying that we are not putting anybody out of business. We will ensure that those who are importing Mitumba get the first hand to market goods which are going to be manufactured here in this country. We will get the cotton, we will gin it here, we will spin it here and we will make finished products here. This will create a very bid source of employment for our youth in the country."
With the campaigns in high gear, supporters of the two perceived front runners Raila Odinga and William Ruto [Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate] are going hammer and tongs at each other in an effort to win the hearts and minds of the electorate.
The competition and misinformation is expected to reach fever pitch as the two giants head for the homestretch.
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