[Foundation-l] Robert Mugabe's daughter - news story originating from Wikipedia?

Carl Fürstenberg azatoth at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 13:50:32 UTC 2007

geniice in #wikipedia posted this link:

I notified #wikimedia and got the response I should post it here.

Content is as follow:

Yesterday in the House of Commons, [[James Duddridge]] MP asked the
following question of [[Ian McCartney]], government minister.
(link will change soon)

"Can the Minister confirm that [[Robert Mugabe]]'s daughter, Bona
Mugabe, is currently studying at the London School of Economics, and
if so, can he say who is paying?"

The reply "On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I
understand that that is the case. On the second part, I am not certain
so I cannot answer. I will write to the hon. Gentleman and place a
copy in the Library of the House. In response to the hon. Member for
Cotswold I said, without prompting, that we should seriously consider
extending the travel ban to children and other members of the family."

This made the news, with several dozen stories

Subsequently, it appears this is completely false. Here's an account
which shows the retraction and also official anger from Zimbabwe

*"Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe's Minister of Information told New
Zimbabwe.com that the original claims by McCartney were "part of the
many lies they have been peddling about Zimbabwe".

*He said: "This is just one of a thousand lies they have been peddling
against Zimbabwe. The British government continues to make so many
statements which are untrue, obnoxious and concocted.

*"I am glad to note that the minister has withdrawn his false claims.
He should be embarrassed with himself and his government. But we
prefer to let him stew in his malicious lies which must be positioned
in the bigger plot to unsettle the elected government of Zimbabwe."

The story has been officially denied by the London School of Economics
- she is not studying there, but nonetheless the result of the false
story is that [http://www.guardian.co.uk/zimbabwe/article/0,,2043658,00.html]
the travel ban against Mugabe's family will be extended.

Now this part is somewhat speculative, but it appears likely, given
that the story is entirely false, and that Mugabe's daughter is NOT
studying at LSE at all, that the original source of the false
information is Wikipedia. An anonymous IP, using the Swedish ISP Labs2
inserted the following text on 4th November

"Their children however are not included to the EU travel sanctions,
in fact Bona Mugabe has entered an elite social sciences university
([[London School of Economics]]) in the [[United Kingdom]] in
September 2006 Formerly [http://www.lse.ac.uk/directory/students/ LSE
Student Email Directory] now only accessible through
LSE for You] "

In fact the student directory is fully publicly accessible - "LSE for
You" access isn't required, and Mugabe's name is not there.

This information remained in the article, untouched until it was
removed by another anonymous IP with no other edits
on March 15th. But this time the anon IP was in the LSE itself
[http://whois.domaintools.com/], and likely able to
verify the truth of the Swedish IP's claim.

The information is still still in many wikipedia mirrors, such as

In summary, it appears that we have an entirely baseless claim that
remained in wikipedia for five months (the information was added back
yesterday, but following the initial news stories, not the dodgy claim
about the email directory), and is still extant on the web in mirrors.
This claim has I believe led an MP to make a question in Parliament,
followed by a false statement by a minister, and now a minor
diplomatic incident. This is the only plausible explanation, as
statements in wikipedia tend to be treated as knowledge, so anyone
reading the article (such as an MP) between November and March 15 (or
still now, on mirror sites), would 'know' that Bona Mugabe was at the
LSE, handy 'knowledge' for use in Parliamentary debates on Zimbabwe.

The other explanation, that LSE is lying, and that Bona Mugabe is
actually studying there, is implausible as there are thousands of
students there, and it would be implausible that following an official
denial, one of those students (at what is a Universities known for its
politics) would not call their bluff. There's just no way they could
lie about this. [[User:Nssdfdsfds|Nssdfdsfds]] 08:38, 27 March 2007
::And the ''other other'' explanation is that there are vast potential
sources of misinformation in the world outside of Wikipedia.  It does
not seem unlikely that this is just a rumor which both the article
poster and the MP heard.--[[User:Pharos|Pharos]] 01:10, 29 March 2007

:It is also of course possible that the IP was going off of a rumour
on another website or thought he'd seen her, or whatever, rather than
that he deliberately made it up. But we probably are the ones
incidentally to blame for publicizing it. Not really much we can do
about that sort of thing though, other than try futilely to convince
people that we aren't supposed to be perfect. --[[User:tjstrf|tjstrf]]
<small>[[User talk:tjstrf|talk]]</small> 01:10, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

::A google search shows no sources for the information outside of
Wikipedia. [[User:Nssdfdsfds|Nssdfdsfds]] 13:04, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

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