Last week, a WhatsApp message (news report) alleging that COVID-19 coverups were the reason Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Dennis Mukwege, had resigned from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) COVID-19 Response Team surfaced on social media platforms.
The ‘news report’ shared on many Facebook pages, Instagram posts, WhatsApp broadcast messages, and blog post quoted Mukwege saying: “I cannot in any case dirty my Nobel Peace Prize for money, we had been ordered to declare any illness to be coronavirus and any death.”
In the viral post, the Nobel laureate claimed that: “In addition, the thing that displeased me is that, after more than 100 samples none came out positive. I have a career to protect and I am Congolese by blood. Getting rich by lying is a sin before God, I quit.”
Mukwege had earlier released a statement on June 10 stating his resignation from his positions as vice-chair of the Multisectoral Coronavirus Response Committee for the DRC’s South Kivu province and as chair of the country’s Health Commission.
However, the reason stated in the viral post about financial inducement and COVID-19 data falsification is false claims which have been debunked by various fact-checking platforms including Africa Check.
According to the official statement which was released by Mukwege on June 10, he resigned “in order to devote me entirely to my medical responsibilities” and to treat an influx of COVID-19 patients at Panzi Hospital in South Kivu, which he’s one of the co-founders.
Mukwege, in his resignation statement, prefaces his frustration with both delays in Covid-19 testing and a lack of social control of the disease’s spread saying: “a loosening of prevention measures by our population, a denial of realities, the impossibility of enforcing barrier measures, the porosity of our borders”.
Nowhere in the official statement were the reasons given in the viral post which has garnered millions of views on Facebook expressly stated.
After the misleading news report went viral, Mukwege tweeted from his handle in the early hours of June 15 saying: “Statements or press releases posted in my name but not appearing on our social networks @PanziFoundation @PanziUSA @MukwegeFound or our official sites http://fondationpanzirdc.org http://panzifoundation.org http://hopitaldepanzi.org http://mukwegefoundation.org are not genuine.”
Statements or press releases posted in my name but not appearing on our social networks @PanziFoundation@PanziUSA@MukwegeFound
or our official sites https://t.co/ODQFGakgcm https://t.co/0DEwKkzxw1 https://t.co/KekC4StAma https://t.co/f0pTQFf4mr are not genuine.
— Denis Mukwege (@DenisMukwege) June 18, 2020
Doctor Miracle, as Mukwege is fondly called in Congo is a renowned gynecological surgeon, who is widely acknowledged for his ability to repair the horrific damage inflicted on women who have been raped through reconstructive surgery.
He was jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize with Iraqi activist Nadia Murad for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”
The news is False. The viral post has been debunked by Mukwege.