The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has today issued a statement distancing itself from a ‘WhatsApp message’ making rounds on WhatsApp. The ‘WhatsApp message’ falsely allows WhatsApp users to cast a vote for Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. In the announcement, ZEC said that the message comes in the form of an app that people are distributing on the WhatsApp platform.
Remember that you can send an application on WhatsApp. Accordingly, the ‘WhatsApp message’ is an app. ZEC stated:
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission would like to dissociate itself with an app circulating on the WhatsApp platform
Some WhatsApp users could be duped into believing that the app is a ZEC app because it has a ZEC logo.
How does the app work?
After a WhatsApp user receives the app (message), the users download and install the app. As the user finishes installing the app, there will be a button labeled “Click to vote”. And when a user clicks the button it shows a notification congratulating the user on voting for Emmerson Dambudzo Munangagwa. The notification reads:
Congratulations! You have voted for Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. Your vote counts
Zec further assured the public that it does not communicate with people using WhatsApp. Rather, it’s using the ZEC twitter handle and bulk SMS to communicate with the public.
The country’s Electoral watchdog went on to mention that it is impossible for people to vote via apps as it is mandatory for the voter to be physically present at a designated polling station to be able to vote.
The’WhatsApp message’ can be seen as fake news
The aforementioned ‘WhatsApp message’ is part of growing problem that many countries and companies are fighting. That problem is fake news. And ZEC’s press statement could be translated as an effort to try curbing the spread of fake news which could influence voters decisions (although I doubt the ‘WhatsApp message’ could have influenced voters).
And Zimbabwean politicians seem to be aware of the dangers that fake news poses to them. This is proven by Chris Mutsvangwa’s (President Mnangwagwa’s Adviser) backlash against fake news at breakfast meeting earlier this months. The highlight of his speech was a call to the powers that be to flirt with the idea of trying to regulate social media in Zimbabwe so as to stem fake news.
On the regional scene, Uganda is one country is being affected with fake news and the problem is pushing its government to deliberate on introducing a social media tax as a way to limit Ugandans in using social media and ultimately combat fake news.
On the global scene, the 2016 US elections were influenced by fake news in favor of Donald Trump and now the Us is making various efforts to combat fake news ranging notable by instructing social media companies to control the spread of fake news.