This week, we had an unfortunate case where a leaked fake letter almost gained legitimacy after it slipped past the gatekeepers and became the source of a breaking news alert.
Fortunately, it was corrected fast and the damage (we hope) did not last. In this era of fake news, one must be alert.
1. That the Teachers Service Commission does not want teachers employed as election officials
This came out during the day on Monday. My colleague Ouma Wanzala told me that as far as he knows, it was first posted on a WhatsApp group of teachers in Bomet who are members of the Kenya National Union of Teachers.
From there, it was sent out to other people in the usual fashion.
It was in the form of a letter purported to be from TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia.
She was purported to have said: “Teachers Service Commission would like to notify all teachers that it is illegal for any teacher to attend IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) training as presiding officers, deputy presiding officers, polling clerks or an agent of any political party whether during working days or over the holiday.”
The correct position, as the commission later said in a statement, was that there was no such ban on teachers taking up the jobs.
The commission sent out the statement after seeing the breaking news text sent by the Nation.
The Nation apologised for that misinformation. It had also been misled.
2. That the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission boss has denied having spoken to the ‘Sunday Nation’ about the saga surrounding Garissa governor Nathif Jama
Again, this was another letter this time around purported to have come from the secretary of the anti-graft commission, Halakhe Waqo, suggesting that the Sunday Nation had made up a story about the freezing of Garissa governor Nathif Jama’s bank account.
Specifically, Mr Waqo was purported to have said that the court ordered the bank to submit Mr Jama’s account statement, that he did not discuss the case with the media and is in fact considering taking legal action against the Sunday Nation over the matter.
Unlike in the TSC case, this lie did not fly halfway around the world before the truth could lace up its boots.
EACC spokesman Yassin Amaro spoke to a Nation reporter within 30 minutes of the fake letter’s emergence and clarified that it was fake.
A close examination of the EACC letterhead shows a terribly bad forgery.