ZIMBABWE – Contrary to a growing Internet rumor, U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump did not say he would lock up Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni if he got into office.
A little-known Kenyan news website named The Spectator claimed on December 30 that Trump, known for his bold statements, vowed to arrest the two African leaders while addressing vets in Washington, D.C.
“I want to reiterate here before America’s greatest heroes that I will not condone any dictatorial tendencies exhibited by dictators around the world especially the two old men from Zimbabwe and Uganda,” the website falsely quoted the candidate as saying.
“Mugabe and Museveni must be put on notice that their days are numbered and that I am going to arrest them and lock them in prison. If the past American administrations have failed to stop these two despots, I will personally do it.”
No video or audio of the purported speech can be found online. Trump, an avid user of social media, has not made any mention of either Mugabe or Museveni on Twitter, his main venue of choice.
The Spectator‘s made-up quotes have been reprinted by several African news outlets, including Zimbabwe’s Radio VOP and Zim Eye.
Some less-observant readers may have confused the Kenyan Spectator with The American Spectator or its British sister, The Spectator, which all share the same name. The American and British websites are well-established and respected conservative media outlets, and have no relation to the Kenyan website calling itself The Spectator.
It must be noted that the Kenyan Spectator has an option that allows anyone to submit articles for publication. So while it is possible that nobody at the website wrote the false Trump piece, the website’s editors are responsible for its appearing on the front page of the website.
Two follow-up pieces, claiming to be retorts from Mugabe and Museveni, have also been published. Again, the Kenyan Spectator claims Mugabe has allegedly said “Adolf Hitler is Donald Trump’s grandfather,” while Ugandan outlet New Vision quotes Museveni as saying, “I have not heard about trump [sic] and what trump [sic] says is none of my business. I think Mr. Trump has got enough work to do in US. People are dying, being killed by guns. Maybe I could give him some advice on how to have peace in the USA.”