Propaganda and misinformation will not make country any better

By: MAINA KIAI

Last weekend, a screenshot of a purported series of e-mails was unleashed on social media, purporting to be correspondence between some human rights activists, including me, about the ongoing Assembly of State Parties (of the ICC) meeting at The Hague.

The objective was to try and convince gullible Kenyans that there is a conspiracy against Mr William Ruto that civil society has engineered.

But the e-mails are fake and contrived. In fact, they are criminal as they impersonate several people, which the police should now be looking into.

For instance, the address that they purport to use for me does not exist.

There is no domain name like “ohcr.org” that I know of or associated with.

I guess they confused the domain name for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, but that domain name is “ohchr.org.”

And in any case, I don’t have a personalised e-mail address with that domain name.

There are many other clues that disclose the fakeness of these e-mails, for example including impersonating a Swiss diplomat who was once based in Kenya but left years ago and has nothing to do with the ASP or ICC issues.

The screenshot of the e-mails was first posted by one Alvan Kinyua who describes himself as a “digital communication strategist at the Presidency.”

Did he make up these e-mails or was he a tool for disinformation and propaganda?

Whatever the case, it should be simple enough for a professional and competent investigator to find the origin of the forgery, but I am not holding my breath waiting for the Kenya Police to unravel this.

PRESIDENCY’S INEPTNESS

But why would anyone contrive to fake e-mails and impersonate people in breach of the law?

And why would someone sitting at the Presidency be willing to circulate these falsehoods without checking facts?

For by his actions, Alvan Kinyua exposes the incompetence within the Presidency and the deep sense of impunity therein.

The purported e-mails do not express criminality of any sort, had they been real.

They try to link civil society to the opposition, which is neither illegal nor wrong.

But they are correct in the fact that human rights activists disagree with the regime on the role of the ASP in directing the ICC prosecution.

This is no secret: It is in the public domain and has been publicly disseminated.

And again, having opposing views to the regime is neither illegal nor wrong.

I have been trying to figure out why anyone could be so desperate to the point of criminality and defamation. And I can think of two reasons.

First, this state-sanctioned criminality aims at diverting attention from the woes afflicting the regime.

After years of deliberately lying that it was civil society behind the indictments of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto (if only we had such power and influence!), one of their own blurted out the truth that they, as PNU, were deeply involved in looking for witnesses for the Waki Commission.

DOUBLE-STANDARDS

I am not sure the admission was planned or it was a mistake to get media attention, as politicians are wont to do.

But whatever the intention, that admission has muddied the waters for the Kenyatta side of the Jubilee regime and it has been in damage-control frenzy in the Rift since then, dishing out roadside patronage goodies that would make Daniel arap Moi blush, and in “prayer” rallies that remind us of the Pharisees in the Bible.

Second, the regime’s double-standards in the fight against corruption are so devastatingly transparent that it needs something else for people to focus on.

Clearly some Cabinet Secretaries are more equal than others and can be suspended on the mere basis of corruption allegations against them, while others sit pretty despite the huge amounts of money stolen and misused on her watch.

Sadly for the regime, criminal propaganda and disinformation will not make the country any better.

In fact, it exposes them for the criminals they are. For if they can impersonate and forge documents, what other criminal activities are they engaged in?

SOURCE: DAILY NATION