The Pesacheck files

Factcheckers have an important role in democracies as a support of an independent press. However, in the case of Pesacheck this has completely gone wrong.

Let’s start by five important government hoaxes that Pesacheck did not want to check:

  1. Announcement of 189 al-Shabaab fighters killed in Somalia
  2. On 27 Dec Kasirye Ashraf was shot in the head by security forces
  3. Lumbuye to return to Uganda
  4. Fake Declaration of Results form posted by Electoral Commission (at bottom of this article)
  5. New Vision falsely announced that Eddie Mutwe is going to marry.

and most recently

6. Museveni tweets in December 2022 about snowy Rwenzori mountains but showing New-Zealand mountains, and Pesacheck ignores it!

Then we have an overview of Ugandan factchecks did do but went wrong.

  1. On 13 January 2020 Pesacheck jumped to the conclusion that Museveni is not investigated by the International Criminal Court. Not a single part of the article makes reference to reports by Human Rights organizations about gross human rights violations, giving a pro-government bias to the article. The well-known killing of 150 people in the Kasese massacre by Ugandan army is not mentioned. Looking at the annual ICC report of 2020, they may even have been investigating the Ugandan events at the time of the factcheck, it’s impossible to say cause the ICC report doesn’t state when the Ugandan atrocities were investigated.
  2. 22 January 2021 Pesacheck published a correct factcheck about a fake
    ballotbox stuffing video. The Facebook was not by an influential account and neither was it widely shared, because for Ugandans it was obviously Nigerian. However, dozens of true ballotbox stuffing videos in Uganda during the 14 January 2021 elections, of which the Ugandan government was saying they were fake, were not looked at or referred to by Pesacheck. In this way Pesacheck helped the spread of dis-information,rather than fighting it.
  3. 31 March 2021 FALSE: Bobi Wine didn’t win the Uganda’s presidential elections with 54.19%. Pesacheck concludes this on the basis of the results announced by the Ugandan Electoral Commission, who is not considered independent by election experts. The interesting thing is that Pesacheck in another factcheck concluded that Uganda never had free & fair elections, so their factchecks contradict.
  4. On 13 July 2021 Pesacheck published a factcheck about an irrelevant Facebook post stating Ashraf Kasirye has died, dated half a year before: 27 December 2020. That’s too late.
  5. 22 July 2021. The craziest Pesacheck factcheck might be the one where they checked a one year old Facebook unimportant post claiming a musician was dead.
  6. On 9 August 2021 Pesacheck published a factcheck about a July 1st Facebook post claiming the Kabaka King being dead. It had only a dozen likes and it was simply too late.
  7. On 30 November 2021 Pesacheck published a factcheck about a 3 November Facebook post stating MP Ssegirinaya was dead. The post hardly had any shares and the factcheck was way too late. The article reads like a government article. It doesn’t mention that the charges against Ssegirinya are widely considered as trumped-up and no evidence has been shared. It also fails to mention that Ssegirinya was allegedly tortured.
  8. On November 17 2021 Pesacheck published a factcheck of a 25 October post claiming a Ugandan bus had exploded. That’s too late, and even at the time it was hardly relevant since the hoax didn’t get traction.
  9. On December 12 2021 Pesacheck published a factcheck that explained Entebbe Airport has not been renamed Xi Jinping airport. Obviously this was a joke to express the enormous influence China has through it’s investments, but Pesacheck didn’t mention it.
  10. On 1 January 2022 we posted our analysis of a fake screenshot of a Muhoozi tweet spread on 29 December 2021. Pesacheck only published the same factcheck on 19 January. This is too late. Although their conclusion is correct, the methodology was incomplete. They failed to apply ‘audi alteram partem’ and did not check with Eron Kiiza, Kakwenza’s lawyer. Pesacheck also fails to mention the alleged torture of Kakwenza. Lastly, they didn’t mention the fake screenshot was shared by Erias Lukwago. More info here:

For international readers that do not know the Ugandan situation it might help to look at some International factchecks

11. On May 13 2022 Pesacheck reported: PARTLY FALSE: Two of these images are not related to Russia’s recent attack on Kyiv I discussed this with Dutch journalist and factchecker A Pleijter and he was critical of the Pesacheck conclusion since the two photos are evidently stock photos.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, on our Twitter account @nup_diaspora there are many more Pesacheck factchecks being analysed. Some are good, many are incomplete or wrong.

To summarize we see that many (Ugandan) Pesacheck factchecks are

  • Not timely. In many cases the factcheck was published when the checked item was no longer relevant. In two cases the factcheck was done half a year respectively a year after the event.
  • Not reflecting both sides of the story, not applying ‘audi alteram partem’.
  • Missing important context.

Some are

  • Not understanding humor & parody.
  • Reading like government propaganda.
  • Containing logical flaws.

And what is worst, important dis-information by the Ugandan government is not factchecked.

Pesacheck should take the example of the Continent, who did a check on a Social Media post by the Ugandan Electoral Commission showing that their results form appears to prove electoral fraud.