stella ndabeni-abrahams

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Image via: flickr

SA’s fake news fiasco: Tech minister accused of ‘sleeping at the wheel’

The fight against fake news has been a tough one since we entered lockdown, and Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has been blamed for its rise.

stella ndabeni-abrahams

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Image via: flickr

It’s been a particularly bruising week in the fight against fake news. Although multiple arrests have been made to stop the spread of false information, misleading articles and made-up claims still spread like wildfire. That’s why Phumzile van Damme is taking the issue to her opposite number, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

As the Minister of Communications and Technologies, many of the steps needed to combat fake news will be determined by Ndabeni-Abrahams’ department. Misinformation is shared widely on our tech and social media platforms. But as the shadow minister highlights, more actions must be taken immediately to stem this tide of incorrect and potentially damaging lies, which are presented as fact.

Fake news runs riot in South Africa

The issue spiralled out of control over the weekend when a cycle of fake stories about Bill Gates did the rounds. South Africans were left apoplectic by his alleged plans to trial vaccines on the continent – but the problem was, he never made such claims. Apologies have since been issued to the billionaire and his foundation. As van Damme suggests, it’s up to every citizen and media publication to verify their information:

“The Minister of Communications and Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, is asleep at the wheel while dangerous and life-threatening fake news and disinformation about disease runs rampant. As such, the DA will use its resources and reach to identify and correct fake news as well as educate the public about it.”

“Extra steps to verify information before it is published is an absolute necessity while not only South Africa but the world is dealing with something that has killed almost 70 000 people. For example, the story suggesting that the Bill Gates Foundation will test vaccines in Africa is inexcusable and must never happen again.”

Phumzile van Damme

Phumzile van Damme slams ATM ‘conspiracies’

One person who hasn’t heeded this warning is African Transformation Movement leader Vuyo Zungula. He put a tin-foil hat on before submitting a letter to the National Assembly this week, asking President Cyril Ramaphosa to debunk a series of wild conspiracies about Bill Gates and, bizarrely, Trevor Noah.

PVD has urged Ramaphosa to be firm in his response to Zungula, and “admonish him” for his irresponsible conduct.