ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze has been targeted in what appears a fake news campaign on social media.
It all started with the circulation of a ‘press statement’ from Rwanda National Police (RNP), alleging that properties belonging to Tumwebaze had been “seized” in Rwanda.
“The Special operations branch took possession of some properties by force but no arrests were made…” read the alleged statement.
Research by ChimpReports showed that the statement was not signed by RNP spokesperson as is the tradition with the force.
The alleged statement was not posted on RNP’s social media pages as is the custom with press communiques issued by the institution.
Cases of fake news in Uganda have been on the rise in recent years, with journalists, banks, activists and government officials being targeted.
Dfcu Bank suffered a protracted fake news campaign which observers say was aimed at triggering panic among its customers to withdraw their savings.
Former Electoral Commission Chairman, Eng. Badru Kiggundu and President of Uganda Journalists Association, Hajji Bashil Kazibwe Mbaziira were declared dead on social media platforms.
Yet, the duo was alive and kicking.
Reports about the seizure of Tumwebaze’s alleged properties were first shared on social platforms by People Power supporters.
An official at RNP told ChimpReports in a WhatsApp message that the alleged statement had “all the hallmarks of forgery. We didn’t issue anything like that. It is not even signed!”
Researcher David Serumaga recently urged UCC to crack the whip on Ugandans fond of spreading fake news but activists said the Supreme Court protects such individuals.
“We have had many cases where fake stories are spread to kill the image of the country, organisations individuals and put our people and security on tension,” said Serumaga.
The Uganda Communications Commission is mandated by sections 5(1)(b) and (k) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 to monitor, inspect, license, supervise, control and regulate all communications services and to promote and safeguard the interests of consumers and operators as regards to the quality of communication services in Uganda
UCC’s publicist Ibrahim Bbosa recently said the Commission had observed an increase in the incidences of fake publications, especially on digital platforms, where “unscrupulous members of the public misuse computer systems to create, publish and distribute unverified, misleading and fake stories and/or reports regarding a range of events happening in our society.”
He added: “The stories/reports are sometimes distorted to appear to be originating from legitimate sources whereas not. The general public is advised to be vigilant and to exercise due care by verifying the authenticity of any news stories /reports from official sources before believing and acting on them.”
But ChimpReports understands that such fake stories are a result of intrigue in government.
As President Museveni prepares the new cabinet, linking a minister to Rwanda whose relations with Uganda are sour, turns one into a subject of interest and can lead to dismissal from cabinet.