FACT CHECK: Did The South African Prime Minister Deny The Existence Of The Omicron Variant?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a tweet from South Africa’s prime minister claiming there is no COVID-19 variant present in the country.

Verdict: False

The South African government does not include the position of prime minister. The tweet is from an unverified account using the name of the country’s minister of public enterprises.

Fact Check:

The omicron variant of the coronavirus was first reported in South Africa on Nov. 24, according to the World Health Organization. Since then, the variant has been detected in dozens of countries, including the U.S., India, Australia and Canada, The New York Times reported.

Now, a post claims the prime minister of South Africa is calling into question the variant’s existence. The image shows a screen grab of a tweet from a Twitter user with the screen name “Prime Minister” that reads in part, “Lies lies we are fine here in SA no variant nothing.”

“SA Prime minister says there is no new South African variant, it’s all lies,” reads text included in the image. (RELATED: Did The World Economic Forum Report On The Omicron Variant In July?)

The screen grabbed tweet, however, did not originate with the country’s prime minister. In fact, South Africa has no prime minister position within its governmental structure, according to the South African government’s website. Rather, the country is led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has openly acknowledged the existence of the omicron variant in his country.

The tweet in question stems from an unverified Twitter user with the handle @Jamnandasgodan whose profile picture is a photo of Pravin Jamnadas Gordhan, South Africa’s minister of public enterprises. While the user utilizes the screen name “Prime Minister,” there is no indication the account is linked to any government official.

“Prime Minister of the Republic of South Africa,” reads the account’s bio. “Rogue Unit Founder. Above the Law.”

Check Your Fact searched Godhan’s government website but found nothing resembling the message within the tweet. The minister of public enterprises also openly acknowledged the existence of the variant when discussing its impact on the South African economy in a Nov. 26 interview with Bloomberg.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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