Facebook expunges dozens of pages linked to DRC politician

Wednesday August 12 2020


By Patrick Ilunga @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Kinshasa. Social media giant Facebook has deleted 66 accounts, 63 pages and five groups associated with a DR Congolese politician for negatively manipulating public debate.

The pages linked to Mr Honoré Mvula were expunged along with 25 accounts on Instagram, a photo-sharing platform owned by Facebook.
Facebook says the accounts and pages are part of an organised network characterised by "a coordinated effort to manipulate public debate for strategic purposes and which embeds fake accounts at the heart of the operation.”

Mr Mvula, however, sees the action of Facebook as a bid to curtail his fight to support President Felix Tshisekedi.

“We have understood this message ... our commitment to defend the Head of State has encountered resistance which has resulted in montages, lies and calumnies.

“This does not discourage us from continuing to defend values ​​alongside the President of the Republic,” said Mvula.
The DR Congolese Presidency, however, distanced his office from Mr Mvula’s public stances. Mr Michée Mulumba, the personal aide of the President stressed that Honoré Mvula “does not act on behalf of the president.”
In the pages fingered by Facebook, followers often raise questions about the presidency to which Mvula tries to provide answers.
As to how so many pages were created in his name, he argues the “accounts were created by an independent journalist”, who is a social media manager of several high personalities and authorities and often acted as a consultant.
Relatively little known in real life,  Mr  Honoré Mvula has created his world in social media. He brags of having subscribers in Asia, Africa, and America and Europe. The pages sometimes reach up to 1.5 million ‘likes’ in total reflecting either the real fan base or bots approving of his commentaries.
According to Facebook, these pages were initially advertised as representing other politicians and public figures. Once a sufficient audience was built, they rebranded themselves to display pro-Honoré Mvula content. Honoré Mvula's own Facebook page was created in November 2016, under the name of Samy Badibanga, former Prime Minister, now first Vice-President of the Senate of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mr Honoré Mvula joined politics through the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo, the party of Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former vice-president of the DRC.

In 2019, he founded his movement, the Force des Patriotes. Mvula is very little known to the general public in Kinshasa and has never won an elective seat. With the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic and rumours of large-scale vaccination trials for Africa, Mvula vehemently used his platforms to atatck Western NGOs. The deletion of his accounts could now be an unwanted measure to stop his venom towards those organisations and especially against his stance on vaccines.