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Confronting harassment by Kenyan Twitter influencers - recently revealed to have been paid to promote misinformation - is akin to dealing with guerrilla warfare, admits an activist involved in a legal battle to stop a change to the constitution.

"It is waged against you until it tires you out," Daisy Amdany told the BBC about the Twitter attacks those behind the court case have faced.

The mudslinging led one activist to opt out of the campaign and "at least three people have taken a break because of the level of insults and misinformation that they have encountered", she said.

Ms Amdany was reacting to a report by the non-profit Mozilla Foundation - Inside the shadowy world of disinformation for hire in Kenya - which makes startling reading.

It shows how shadowy financers have deployed an army of Twitter influencers to co-ordinate disinformation campaigns in favour of a government-backed constitution amendment bill, known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Hashtag heist

According to the research conducted between May and June 2021, they were paid to directly harass and discredit journalists, judges and civil activists on Twitter.

It is not a surprise that Twitter was targeted given the East African nation has one of Africa's loudest and most engaged internet communities, collectively known as Kenyans on Twitter (#KoT).

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The research showed the disinformation business to be lucrative, with influencers for political hire paid roughly between $10 (£7) and $15 to participate in three campaigns per day. Some influencers managed to reach retainer level and were paid about $250 per month.

Payments were made directly to their phones through the mobile money platform M-Pesa.

Influencers interviewed refused to reveal who was paying them, but one told the researchers that sometimes the money came before the campaign and sometimes afterwards.

Those behind the campaigns used WhatsApp groups to send influencers content and detailed instructions.

They were told to promote tags - trending on Twitter was the primary target by which most of them were judged.

The aim was to trick people into thinking that the opinions trending were popular - the equivalent to "paying crowds to show up at political rallies", the research says.

Accounts deactivated

Twitter is also alleged to have profited by placing adverts on the disinformation campaigns.

An agency that sells Twitter adverts in Kenya offers promoted trends for $3,500 per day, the report says.

"While we weren't able to independently confirm the tweet-for-pay activity described in your report, we could confirm the presence of at least one network of co-ordinated accounts," Twitter said in response.

About 100 accounts run by Kenyan Twitter influencers have now been deactivated by the tech giant for violating its platform manipulation and spam policy.

A poster of a rubbish lorry tipping out high court judgesIMAGE SOURCE,TWITTER
image captionImages like this were tweeted about the high court judges

The waves of attacks launched against the judges were intended to discredit their independence, using hashtags including #AnarchistJudges, #JudiciaryRevenge, #JudicialPayback and #Justice4Sale.

An average of at least one disinformation campaign every two days was uncovered during the period before and after the High Court ruling in May.

The judges found the BBI proposal to be irregular, illegal and unconstitutional, a decision upheld by the Appeals Court in August - although the battle continues as the attorney general is challenging the ruling at the Supreme Court.

It all started on Twitter with photo-shopped images about those behind the bid to block BBI, who argued that the process used to implement the changed was flawed and unconstitutional.

"They talked about how we don't care about peace," explained Ms Amdany, who was among those who launched the Linda Katiba Movement (which in Swahili means "Protect the Constitution") in February.

"That we're foreign agents paid to destabilise the nation or [we're] people who are not accountable, the evil society, noisemakers, loudmouths.

"A lot of it is used to mobilise hatred and cast aspersions on the intent and character of the people driving any particular campaign."

Activists were also portrayed as being funded by Deputy President William Ruto - a key opponent of BBI.

Some of the accounts used suggestive pictures of women as profile pictures to bait men into following them.

Fears for democracy

The Mozilla Foundation report found little evidence that the disinformation drive actually swayed people's opinions on the BBI court proceedings.

However, the hired influencers have managed to scare away critical voices from the debate on Twitter, with civil activists saying they now self-censor on the platform.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila OdingaIMAGE SOURCE,AFP
image caption BBI is supported by President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) and his one-time rival Raila Odinga  By Emmanuel Onyango, BBC

Photo via Radio Tamazuj


The Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) in Jur River County in Western Bahr el Ghazal State has accused the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) of arresting four of their soldiers and over twenty civilians on Saturday.

According to Lt. Col Lino Madut Urayo, the SPLA-IO’s deputy operations commander in Western Bahr el Ghazal, the SSPDF left Wau on Saturday and traveled to Udici, Kangi, and Bahr- Urud Payams in Jur River with a plan to arrest SPLA-IO Brigadier General Philip Piel Ajak who has been accused by the state police for coordinating criminal activities. 

Lt. Col. Urayo told Radio Tamazuj Sunday that the SPLA-IO received the information of the arrest of their members on Saturday.

“We received information yesterday (Saturday) from the areas of Kangi, Bahr- Urud and Udici on the side of our Brigadier General Piel Ajak that the soldiers from Division 5 (SSPDF) went there and arrested our Major Ukel Deng, other soldiers and also they took a traffic policeman and several civilians,” Col. Urayo said.

He added: “We don’t know what the operation was about and we are asking because SPLM/A-IO has no problem with anybody as our leader Dr. Riek Machar is in Juba representing us and our governor here in Wau. It is our right to come to the town and to stay with our civilians but what happened yesterday when our people were found with civilians and were arrested is not right.” 

Col. Urayo called on his counterparts in the SSPDF to release the detained SPLA-IO officers and civilians. He asked the SSPDF to follow clear procedures in the event an SPLA-IO soldier commits a crime and has to be arrested.

“If there is anything from our side as SPLA-IO, report it to our headquarters. If you want anybody connected to any crime come to us and we will apprehend him and hand him over to the authorities in a clear way but don’t just go and arrest anybody unlawfully,” he said.

Another SPLA-IO senior officer, Brigadier General James Mare Giir, said the Saturday operation that led to the arrests was illegal.

“The operation of Kangi up to Bahr-Urud was illegal and involved two vehicles mounted with the (SSPDF) soldiers,” Gen.Giir said. “They just started arresting people and they said they were going to Brigadier General Piel Ajak. People were arrested and brought to Wau town. What is this?” 

When contacted, SSPDF spokesperson Major General Lul Ruai Koang, said he is not aware of any arrests but will contact the operation department in Wau. 

“No. I am not aware. Let me get in touch with our operations department and get more information because today is Sunday,” Gen Ruai said. 

Last month, the Police Professional Standard Unit in Western Bahr el Ghazal state said they were hunting for self-proclaimed SPLA-IO Brigadier General Philip Piel Ajak and three other notorious criminals. The SPLA-IO however came to the defense of Gen. Ajak and said he was not a criminal. - Radio Tamazuj

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta Signing Government Documents TWITTER 
  • The United Nations has stepped in to solve Kenya’s historical land injustices after the British government refused to execute this mandate.

    The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has written to President Uhuru Kenyatta, asking his administration to share crucial information on the matter. 

    UNHRC seeks to be informed whether the colonizer had offered any form of compensation or psychological and physical rehabilitation to the affected communities. 

    “Please indicate if financial support has been granted by the government of the UK, of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and/or the multinational tea companies to provide social, medical and educational services,” read a part of the letter.

    Entrance to United Nations offices in Nairobi
    Entrance to United Nations offices in Nairobi. TWITTER

    The letter also sought that the UN be informed if infrastructure and essential utilities to compensate for the victims’ suffering, as recommended by the National Land Commission (NLC) had been offered.

    The development follows a petition filed by Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony at the UN headquarters in Geneva. Chepkwony first filed the case against the British authorities in 2014 on behalf of 500,000 victims of colonial torture from the Kipsigis and Talai communities.

    They were subjected to unlawful torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention, arbitrary displacement and violations of rights to privacy, family life and property.

    Attempts to have the British government settle these disputes were all in vain since they decided to set a timeline for filing cases on land injustices and bodily harm, rendering this specific case impossible to solve. 

    The United Kingdom went ahead and made it law that cases related to personal injuries have a limit of three years and land claims have a limit of 12 years. 

    In August, the UN rights body directed the British government to issue a public apology and compensate the 500,000 Kenyans who have lodged the

Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu appoints four ministers and an Attorney General in mini-reshuffle. Photo THE CITIZEN


Four new ministers and an Attorney General were sworn in on Monday in Tanzania following a mini reshuffle.

President Samia Suluhu made the appointments on Sunday, dropping the names of three ministers and bringing back two ministers from former president John Magufuli’s reign.

In the reshuffle, Dr Stergomena Tax was sworn in as the Minister of Defence and National Service, two days after she was sworn in as Member of Parliament to replace Elias Kwandikwa who died on August 2. Mr Kwandikwa was also the Defence minister.

Dr Tax, a former Executive Secretary of Southern African Development Community (Sadc), becomes the first woman to head the Defence ministry in Tanzania.

Bumbuli MP January Makamba was sworn in as Minister for Energy replacing Dr Medard Kalemani whose appointment was revoked.

Mr Makamba junior served as Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environmental Affairs), before his appointment was revoked by Magufuli.

Prof Makame Mbarawa, who also served as minister in Magufuli’s regime, becomes the new Minister of Works and Transportation replacing Dr Leonard Chamuriho.

President Samia appointed Dr Ashatu Kijaji as Minister of Community and Information, a newly created ministry, dropping off Dr Faustine Ndugulile.

The President moved the Information Services Department to the new ministry under Dr Kijaji from the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports.

She also appointed Dr Eliezer Feleshi as the new Attorney General (AG) to replace Prof Adelardus Kilangi whom she named an ambassador.

Prior to his appointment, Dr Feleshi was the Principal Judge of the High Court.

The new officials were sworn in at State House Chamwino, Dodoma.

Shortly after the swearing in of the new appointees, the President urged leaders countrywide to uphold the leadership code and avoid harsh language and abrasiveness to accomplish government directives.

She further said she would continue making necessary changes in the government for the good of Tanzania. - BEATRICE MATERU/EMMANUEL ONYANGO, The EastAfrican

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati's lawyer Erick Mutua told the court that the orders being sought were meant to kick his client out of the office without proof that he had violated the constitution Mutua argued that the court should give his client a chance to tell their side of the story regarding how the 2017 General Election was run Chebukati was replying to a case filed by Samwel Clinton Elijah, who wants him kicked out of office for "mismanagement" of the 2017 presidential poll that the Supreme Court ruled was marred by irregularities

Chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Wafula Chebukati has asked the court to dismiss a case seeking to kick him out of office. IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati is accused of elections irregularity which was identified in the 2017 General Election. Photo: IEBC. Source: Facebook Chebukati’s through his Lawer Erick Mutua, told the court that he had not violated the constitution to warrant his dismissal from office.

 “If you look at those two orders being sought, the import is to bar the respondent (Chebukati) from sitting in a constitutional office. For those orders to be issued, the court must be convinced those violations have occurred,” Mutua said. Chebukati not qualified to oversee major election The lawyer argued that the court should give his client a chance to tell his side of the story.

Chebukati was replying to a case filed by Samwel Clinton Elijah, who wanted him kicked out of office on the basis of a Supreme Court ruling that found irregularities in the 2017 General Election. Loopholes in 2017 General Election Elijah accused IEBC of not facilitating public participation or ensuring that the gaps found in the commission after the 2017 General Election are sealed.

“The respondent (Chebukati) failed to adhere to the constitution and the applicable laws hence steered the 1st interested party (IEBC) in conducting a presidential election that was marred with irregularities and illegalities which were substantial and significant that they affected the integrity of the presidential election of August 8, 2017, the results notwithstanding,” court papers filed by Elijah’s lawyer Denis Seko read.

ODM Youth Wing Accuses Wafula Chebukati of Siding with Ruto, Gives Him 14 Days to Resign Elijah wants Chebukati stopped from heading the commission until the case is heard and determined. He also claimed that the election body was ill-prepared for next year’s (2022) elections, saying it had failed to fill vacant critical positions by commissioners who quit or retired.

Ezra Chiloba The applicant also stated that the commission has an additional staff deficit of 296, including a chief executive officer. “On September 2018, the then IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba was sacked by the respondent. The position remains vacant to date and the first interested party has not had a substantive chief executive officer since 2018,” he said. Since the commission is not fully constituted even after President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed four new commissioners, Elijah asserts that Kenyans are not confident next year’s elections will be free and fair. Tuko

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