False! Congolese Education Minister did not impregnate his deputy

Last week, social media was abuzz with news
about an alleged affair between the Minister of Primary, Secondary, and Technical Education in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tony Mwaba Kazadi, and his deputy, Mrs. Aminata Namasia Bazego, which has led to pregnancy.

The news has been amplified on various social media platforms across Ghana, Nigeria, and other African countries.

The news first emerged online via the Twitter handle of a Congolese journalist, Lungila John, on May 10, 2023, and was picked up by a Nigerian news outlet, The Street Journal. The report has since been republished by some top Nigerian news sites, including Punch newspaper, Vanguard News, The Nations newspaper, The Heritage Times, and The Herald.

On  May 12, 2023, Lungila John posted a photo of a ‘pregnant’ Aminata on his Twitter ostensibly to confirm his earlier claim.

Cumulatively, the tweet had been seen by almost 300,000 people and retweeted and quoted 300 times.

However, using Google reverse image search, Fact-Check Ghana did a search that showed that the image has been manipulated to make Madam Aminata look pregnant. Her left hand was made to appear wider and bigger as compared to the original photo posted on the deputy minister’s social media handles on March 30, 2023.

The caption, accompanying the photo translated from French to English, indicated that the picture was taken during a routine tour to assess the progress of the country’s free education policy at EP Lumumba and ITI Kitomesa, both schools in the DRC.

The originator of the story, John, posted the altered pictures five weeks and six days after Ms. Aminata had posted them on her Twitter and Instagram handle.

Fact-Check Ghana reached out to the Punch in Nigeria, which describes itself as Nigeria’s most widely read newspaper, to enquire about the source of its publication.

The Punch cited the Street Journal as its source. However, the author of the Punch story provided a link to a Sudanese news portal, which also claimed to have picked the news from local media in the DRC when Fact-Check Ghana contacted him for his source.

Both the Sudanese portal, sudanpost.com, and the Punch published the story on May 21, 2023. However, the Street Journal, which released the story on May 18, 2023, mentioned within the same article that a Congolese source had stated the allegation to be false, attributing it to the ongoing political drama in the DRC.

Fact-Check Ghana combed the web but found no evidence of the publication of the news in the DRC.

Fact-Check Ghana enquired from journalists in DRC who refuted the claim.  The journalists said it was “fake news.”

A Journalist and communication advisor to the DRC Education Minister, Joël Cadet Ndanga, also debunked the allegation when Fact-Check Ghana contacted him to confirm the veracity of the claim.

“Mrs. Aminata Namasia Bazego is not pregnant,” he told Fact-Check Ghana in French via a WhatsApp message on Monday, May 22, 2023.

According to him, her detractors had taken advantage of her choice of clothing in recent times to circulate the false news of her pregnancy.

A few days after the news had circulated on social media, Ms. Aminata took to her Twitter handle to debunk the news. However, she did not deny or confirm that she was pregnant.

“Beyond my official and public duties, I have a life that must be respected by all. A right guaranteed to all Congolese by our Constitution. Tarnishing my image should not be a tolerated habit,” the Congolese government official wrote.

A former Minister of Human Rights of the DRC, Marie-Ange Mushobekwa, condemned what she described as a personal attack on the private life of the deputy minister.

Fact-Check Ghana was unable to contact the originator of the story whose inbox on Twitter was locked for messages.

Fact-Check Ghana contacted Ms. Aminata directly via Instagram to confirm the claim, but she is yet to respond to our message at the time of publishing this report.

From the above, it is evident that the viral claim that the DRC education minister had impregnated his deputy is false.

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