Fact Check: Did Farouk Kibet Call Generation Z Protesters ‘Protégés’?

Fact Check: Did Farouk Kibet Call Generation Z Protesters ‘Protégés’?

By Seliphar Machoni 

As the protests continue across the country, misinformation has been spreading rapidly on social media. One such post going round on Facebook falsely claims that an ally of President Ruto referred to Generation Z protesters as “protégés” of a terrorist group.

According to the fake post, Farouk Kibet described the Generation Z protesters opposing the finance bill as "protégés of a terror group" and suggested they aim to overthrow the Kenyan government. 

The post, purportedly made on June 20, 2024, quoted Kibet as saying, "These young people calling themselves Gen Z are just protégés of a terror group who want to take over the government. There is a powerful force behind these unsuccessful demonstrations. We will not allow that. Serikali iko imara na hatutatishwa! President William Ruto will continue executing his mandates because that is what he was elected to do."

The post included an image of Kibet with the logo of Kenyans.co.ke, suggesting it was published by the Kenyan digital news outlet. The graphic quickly went viral. However, when Story Spotlight fact-checked the post, it could not be found on any of the mentioned platforms.

Typically, Kenyans.co.ke posts its graphics on its verified social media accounts, including Facebook and X. After reviewing these accounts, no such post was found. 

On June 22, the media outlet posted the circulating graphic on its official social media accounts with the word “FAKE,” clarifying that the post did not originate from them.

“This post did not emanate from our media house. We flag it as FAKE. For official communication from Kenyans.co.ke, always visit the official website and verified social media pages,” the outlet cautioned its audience.

The country has witnessed a series of protests against the finance bill since June 18. The protesters, mainly young people referred to locally as Gen Z, have called for the entire bill to be rejected. These anti-finance bill protests have largely been mobilized on social media platforms, which have also seen a rise in misinformation. False claims have targeted politicians suspected of supporting the finance bill, and some leaders’ properties have been targeted.

The bill was first tabled in Parliament in May. Despite nationwide protests, members of Parliament approved it, and Ruto was expected to sign it into law. However, on June 26, Ruto announced that he had withdrawn the bill after listening to the Kenyan people.