IN SHORT: A tweet with two photos showing patients sharing hospital beds and others lying on the floor attempts to discredit an influential cabinet minister. But they were not taken in Elgeyo Marakwet county.
In early July 2023, a tweet with two photos showed patients sharing beds and others lying on the floor. The post has over 140,000 views and over 400 retweets.
It reads in part: “Shareholders in ELGEYO MARAKWET. They recently built a multimillion church to pray God for health and wellness. Their son wears watch worth 1.4million, watches league game in Manchester every weekend. Their cousin is the president of Kenya.”
The same message has also been posted on Facebook with one of the photos.
It then ends with a Kiswahili phrase that can be loosely translated to: “Let me remain in opposition, sir. Foolish!”
Elgeyo Marakwet is a county in the Rift Valley region of Kenya, about 315 kilometres from the capital Nairobi.
The tweet makes a number of references to political events in the country.
The word “shareholders” was made popular in a controversial speech by deputy president Rigathi Gachagua, in which he compared the government to a company.
He said the shareholders were those who worked to get the leaders into office, suggesting that those who did not vote for the government had no stake in the country.
The “son” in question is Kipchumba Murkomen, the minister of roads, transport and public works and a key supporter of president William Ruto. Murkomen hails from the Elgeyo Marakwet county.
The reference to a multimillion-dollar church is probably about a megachurch commissioned by Murkomen in the county. The “watch worth 1.4 million” likely refers to articles that focused on the value of the minister’s watch.
The reference to the minister watching English football league games on a weekly basis is an exaggeration drawn from his tweets in February. He shared photos of himself at the home ground of popular English football club Manchester United.
There is no evidence that Murkomen is Ruto's cousin, but the two are very close.
Tweet’s potential impact
The tweet and photos suggest that the health system in Elgeyo Marakwet is in a bad state, and that its leaders have misplaced priorities despite holding influential positions.
This could damage the reputation of the county's health system and make residents reluctant to go to hospitals even when they need to. It may also cause Kenyans to lose confidence in the ability of the minister to perform his duties, given the negative perception created.
But are these photos taken at a hospital in Elgeyo Marakwet? We checked.
Photos captured in Malindi hospital
A reverse image search shows that the photos were taken at Malindi Sub-County Hospital in Kilifi county in September 2022, over 800 kilometres away from Elgeyo Marakwet.
The photos were taken during an impromptu visit to the hospital by the governor of Kilifi.
Patients were sharing beds due to overcrowding and there were reports of bed and ward shortages. The governor promised to address the hospital's shortcomings.
The claim that the photos are from a hospital in Elgeyo Marakwet is false.
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