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FAKE NEWS ALERT: Video of Zambian president saying he won’t seek re-election is AI-generated

FAKE NEWS ALERT: Video of Zambian president saying he won’t seek re-election is AI-generated
October 12
11:44 2023

The United Party for National Development (UPND) has refuted a viral video suggesting that President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia will not run for re-election in 2026.

In the video, which circulated widely, Hichilema is seen donning a suit with the Zambian flag in the background, announcing his decision not to seek re-election in the upcoming 2026 general election.

“I wish to express my sincere acknowledgement of the challenges we have faced during my tenure as the leader of this great nation. It is with utmost sincerity and with a profound sense of duty to our great nation that I announce my decision to not seek re-election in the upcoming general elections in 2026. I believe this decision is in the best interest of our country and its future,” he is heard saying.

Hichilema had contested and lost the presidential election five times before eventually gaining victory in 2021.

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In Zambia, a president is elected for a term of 5 years with a two-term limit.

From a close observation of the video, the lips movement, unnecessary and untimely pauses, and blurred background gave it away as an artificial intelligence (AI)-generated deepfake.

The video is coming at a time when discussions and politicking against Zambia’s 2026 elections are gaining momentum.

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As is the case in numerous countries, during election seasons, there is a proliferation of misleading video clips and content. These materials are strategically utilized to discredit particular individuals or manipulate public opinion.

In a statement by Batuke Imenda, the secretary general of UPND, Zambia’s ruling party accused “rogue elements” of “creating and circulating fake videos which mimic the President with electronically generated voice intended to mislead the public”.

It warned the public against circulating the video which it said is “a clear misrepresentation of President Hichilema’s persona”.

“We understand the desperation of the opposition political parties to an extent where they are now ready to commit criminality against the popularly elected Head of State,” the statement reads.

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“We know that some opposition leaders and their members are now engaging in illegal covert activities to subvert the democratically elected government.

“We understand you are seeking public attention and political relevance but we shall once again remind you that the law is blind.

“It’s a known fact that some of you deliberately engage in criminal activities so that you draw the attention of the law enforcement agencies. And once they call you for questioning you cry the loudest.

“The party wishes to warn that anyone behind the said video will pay heavily as soon as the law catches up with them.”

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The president is yet to make any comments on the clip. 

Meanwhile, the Zambian police said it has launched an investigation to ascertain the source of the video and bring the culprits to book.

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