Zim's 'dead men walking'

I HAVE died many times — that’s where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once,” this was President Robert Mugabe’s response to one of his death rumours.

Mugabe leads the pack of “dead men walking” in Zimbabwe, as people have spread false news about his death more than three times now.

And this usually happens when he travels outside the country for his annual holiday or medical trips.

The nonagenarian and several political and showbiz celebrities in Zimbabwe have fallen victim to death rumours, with most of them having been started by satire websites and fake news sites that thrive on false, alarmist news.

Mugabe has, however, taken the false news about his death lightly, making fun of how many times he has died.
“Yes, I was dead; it’s true I was dead. I resurrected as I always do. Once I get back to my country I am real,” he said while addressing international media about his death rumours before returning to Zimbabwe.

His wife, Grace, has described Mugabe as a miracle, as he has “died” and “resurrected” several times.

Mugabe’s major opposition competitor and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been the latest victim of the death hoaxes with yet another website spreading false news that the MDC leader had died of food poisoning.

The false news spread like wildfire with his worried supporters calling the WeekendPost newsroom seeking clarification on the rumours.

His spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the news which had been published on news360 website was nothing but malicious, as he was in good health.

“There is a morbid and malicious rumour circulating about president Morgan Tsvangirai. Zimbabweans should rest assured that their leader is alive, well and in good health.  Today, Sunday January 22, 2017, he will address a provincial council in Gwanda. Tomorrow, he will be in Binga, Matabeleland North, conversing with ordinary Zimbabweans about the future of our country,” Tamborinyoka said.

The country is in the middle of coming up with a cyber crime law, which is however, still a Bill, to regulate Internet usage by citizens.

However, analysts have questioned how effective the law would be in stopping online publications that publish such falsehoods as most of the sites are controlled from foreign bases.

In another death hoax incident in December last year, false news spread about the death of Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi , after a dubious overseas-based website created the fake story, with fake quotations.

“This is the work of people who have nothing to do. They are always saying this and it’s tiring. It is really uncalled for,” Tuku’s manager Sam Mataure said in response.

“I do not understand how sane people can wish death upon someone. Tuku is not sick. He is in very good health and we are wondering what the basis of these rumours is. In fact, we are leaving the country for a gig in Boksburg. Tuku will perform with three members of his band as well as Donald Kanyuchi, Innocent Mpemba and Fiona Gwena. These three are part of the Pakare Paye Ensemble.

“Tuku felt that it is high time he took the young ones out of the country on official tours. This will be Pakare Paye Ensemble’s first official regional tour, which is good for them.

“They will perform with him and the trio at the same time. The youngsters have always performed in and around Harare but never outside,” Mataure said proving how Tuku was going on with his normal work.

Another popular artiste who has fallen victim to death rumours is Zimdancehall artiste Wallace Chirumiko better known as Winky D who was rumoured to have died in 2012.

At one point the hoax used to be revived every month, and usually caused by accident injuries, to the point that people no longer paid attention to them.
And then there was the Mukudzei Mukombe aka Jah Prayzah death rumour in 2014. On his next show people joked that it was “the return of the dead soldier and he even released a single Karunyerekupe, in reaction to the rumours.
Last year, Obey Makamure aka Tocky Vibes and Saul Musaka aka Soul Jah Love also woke up to news of their deaths and left with a burden to prove that they were still alive and well.

What is usually absurd is how quick the false news spreads on social networks and chatting platforms. —Bridget Mananavire

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