The government of eSwatini (formally Swaziland) on Tuesday angrily denied viral online reports that King Mswati III, Africa’s last monarch who has 14 wives, had ordered men to have at least two marriages or face jail.
The story, was first run by the Zambian Observer and it went viral on social media, said that Swazi men would have to marry several wives starting from June or they would face jail term.
“Fake news” was not a term many people used four years ago, but it is now seen as one of the greatest threats to democracy, free debate and the Western order.
The Story said the king “has declared in… Swaziland that men will from June 2019 be required to marry at least two or more wives or be jailed if they fail to do so”.
Government spokesman Percy Simelane called the story “malicious” and “poisonous”.
“His Majesty has not made any pronouncement to that effect as it has never been an issue raised,” by the people, Simelane said.
He said the story was “not only an insult to the monarchy and the culture of eSwatini but a disgrace to journalism”. The government has demanded that the newspaper retract its story.
King Mswati has 14 wives and more than 25 children.
One of the main reasons fake news is such a big issue is that it is often believable, which means it’s easy to get caught out. Many fake news stories are also written to create “shock” value.