Tuesday, May 28, 2024

How Fake News played on Voters Emotions in Kenya Polls

It is a bright Sunday afternoon, and Samwel Ouma welcomes us to his house in Nyalenda.

Ouma is a cobbler in Kisumu town, and doubles up as a shoe shiner.

For the past three months, Ouma who was always cheerful and talkative, became withdrawn.

He says he was one of the staunch supporters of the Azimio coalition in the 2022 presidential election.

Towards election, a lot was said that made us convinced our candidate will be the President

Samwel Ouma

“My work place acted as a common point for people to discuss politics,” he says.

He notes that his clients and bystanders would throng his work station from morning to evening, discussing politics.

Fortunately, Ouma’s expectations never came to be, following the declaration of William Ruto as the winner of the presidential polls.

Political disappointments

Today, Ouma remains disappointed but in the path of healing, choosing to avoid political discussions, and other political stories in the media.

His case is a representation of many people who are still recovering from election shock.

With the internet providing easier avenue of sharing information, Ouma admits that he fell prey to unverified information.

According to Ouma, his undoing was believing in the information he got through the discussions.

“Towards election, a lot was said that made us convinced our candidate will be the President,” he adds.

Martin Siguda is a resident of Kisumu, and active in community work.

He chairs Crisis Communication Chapter (CCC) in Kisumu.

Crisis Communication Chapter
Crisis Communication Chapter launch in Kisumu. (PHOTO: Kevine Omollo. LRB)

The CCC initiative is a project convened by Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) in collaboration with DW Akademie aims at providing dialogue spaces for communities.

It brings together communities to promote dialogue to address crisis communication in Community Dialogue and Conflict Management.

Siguda who also spends considerable time in informal political discourses says such talks have been fodder for disinformation.

According to Siguda, the platforms commonly referred to Bunge La Wananchi attract people with different information.

“Some of these information is never verified, and once it is shared, people transport them to the various estates where they live, and spread them further,” he said.

He admits that in his areas of engagement, there are pockets of people who have not accepted the 2022 presidential election outcome.

“That is the reason why CCC is promoting dialogue and focused topical discussions which help inform and educate people above politics,” he said.

He said through the dialogue, people tend to evaluate the type of information they get, and use various means to debunk fake news, hence shaping community discourse.

Fake News and Politics

Odhiambo Nyamori, a lawyer and political activist says politics remains one of the most emotive issues in Kenya, if not globally.

He says recent presidential election in Kenya held on August 9, is still fresh in the minds of many following its shocking intrigues.

“From the campaign period, it was clear that the real competition was between Kenya Kwanza candidate William Ruto and Azimio’s Raila Odinga,” said Nyamori.

He says this made it easy for both political fronts to perpetuate fake news in a bid to get an edge in the presidential polls.

“To instill hope in their supporters, politicians may resort to spreading misleading information,” he added.

After the polls, both Ruto and Raila teams claimed victory, urging their supporters to calm down and wait for the IEBC announcement.

To instill hope in their supporters, politicians may resort to spreading misleading information

Odhiambo Nyamori

The declaration of Ruto as the winner hit Raila supporters hard.

He admits that even after Ruto formed his government and began to stamp his authority, a number of area residents still believe there are chances of his presidency being overturned before the 2027 general election.

His sentiments are echoed by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) which says it is time to shun election differences.

Phillip Okundi
NCIC Commissioner Phillip Okundi. (Photo: Kevine Omollo, LRB)

Commissioner Phillip Okundi said the commission has been going round the country engaging the people in a bid to forge a way towards a united country.

“This is part of the post-election healing process, and we would want to see people discuss and engage peacefully,” he said.

According to Okundi, the electioneering period brought with it hate contents amid heated competitions.

Kevine Omollo
Lake Region Bulletin is your one stop multi-media platform for news from Lake Region Counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet. Email: komollo@lakeregionbulletin.co.ke omollokevine@gmail.com

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