The Citizen received a number of queries on Wednesday from concerned members of the public asking whether we had indeed reported that former president Thabo Mbeki had passed on.
We knew nothing about it, and according to the statesman’s official Facebook account, he spent the day in Ethiopia, brokering a peace deal for belligerents in Sudan, something he has been busy with for some time.
The text accompanying the photo above said: “AS WE SPEAK: From left to right: IGAD envoy to Sudan, Ambassador Lissane Johannes, former Nigerian President, Abdulsalami Abubakar, former South African President, Thabo Mbeki and African Union Liaison Office Head in Sudan, Ambassador Mahmoud Kane in an AUHIP meeting with Sudanese parties in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The AUHIP, which is chaired by President Mbeki, is currently facilitating peace negotiations among Sudanese parties. President Mbeki arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Sunday.”
If that’s not evidence enough, the useful web resource deadoraliveinfo.com also insists that the man who popularised the term “African Renaissance” is still among us at the age of 74:
It appears someone created a fake story this morning reporting that Mbeki passed away after “a short illness”. We found the story, which ends with the words “… and the narrator woke up from his sleep”, which, you could argue, at least shows a smidgeon of honesty.
Whoever wrote the story somehow also found a way to share it on social media in a way that made it seem like it was coming from The Citizen.
The internet is renowned for regularly killing famous people off. Some celebrities die at least once a week. It seems that, by cyber-standards, you aren’t really somebody until a random clickbait site decides to kill you off in a shameless hoax. So we suppose congratulations are in order for Mbeki. He’s now enough of a celebrity to be declared dead for web traffic.
It’s amazing what a complete refusal to campaign for the ANC can do for one’s public profile.