A TikTok video viewed millions of times claims to show a vehicle with an obscured number plate belonging to the Ugandan government that was purportedly sent to Kenya to help rig last month’s elections. The claim is false; AFP Fact Check found that the video was taken in Uganda during a parliamentary by-election in Rubuguri Town Council in the Kigezi region.
“Ugandan government car caught in Kenya rigging elections," reads the caption of a TikTok video published on August 11, 2022, two days after Kenya held presidential elections.
A screenshot of the false TikTok post, taken on September 12, 2022
The clip, which has since been viewed more than 1.3 million times, shows a pickup truck on a dirt road with a concealed number plate. People speaking in the Rukiga language look on warily.
A man in a blue suit enters the frame, approaches the car and wipes the covered number plate to reveal what it reads.
The same claim was shared on Facebook.
However, the clip is unrelated to the Kenyan elections.
Using the video verification tool InVID-WeVerify, we carried out a reverse image search on several keyframes of the TikTok clip. This led us to a photo of the same vehicle published by two Ugandan news websites – Mulengara News and Uganda Radio Network – on August 11, 2022, the same day the TikTok video was shared.
Screenshots showing local reports, taken on September 14, 2022
Samuel Amanya, a journalist who works at Uganda Radio Network, confirmed to AFP Fact Check that he took the picture and video before the Bukimbiri parliamentary by-elections in Rubuguri Town Council in the Kigezi region of Uganda.
Amanya said the man in the blue suit seen in the video rubbing mud from the number plate is James Owebeyi Mugyemani, a candidate who took part in the by-election.
“This photo shows how fake news has circulated on social media,” Amanya said. “That bloggers can circulate false information because they are not accountable to anyone.”
Mugyemani confirmed to AFP Fact Check he is the man in the blue suit. He said he reported the matter to the police, although his complaint was not followed up.
The number plate uncovered by Mugyemani was revealed to be “UG3375C”, a letter sequence reserved for vehicles belonging to the Ugandan government.
There has been no explanation for why the vehicle and others like it had their number plates concealed on the day.
However, candidates in the Ugandan by-elections protested in response, saying the vehicles were causing voters to panic.
Rigging claims in Kenya
A forensic analysis by Kenyan detectives revealed that three Venezuelans arrested with election materials before the polls opened had access to the electoral system, providing the basis for possible wrongdoing.
Presidential candidate Raila Odinga, who lost to his main contender William Ruto, argued in a petition to the Supreme Court that the Venezuelans had interfered with the presidential results.
His legal challenge to annul the elections was dismissed by the court. Ruto was sworn in on September 13, 2022, as Kenya’s fifth president.
Erin Flanagan contributed to this article.