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Amandla.site123: Spreading Disinformation, Manipulating Media Content Ahead of South Africa’s Election

Amandla.site123 is a pro-Russian website dedicated to disseminating disinformation within South Africa. Our investigation has revealed that not only does it churn out extensive content disparaging President Cyril Ramaphosa, but it also manipulates material from reputable publications in the country. The website’s presence was brought to light by South African columnist RW Johnson, who was alerted to it by veterans of uMKhonto we Sizwe, the now-disbanded military wing of the ruling African National Congress. In a recent report, RW Johnson sheds light on an alleged Kremlin-backed scheme unfolding within South Africa’s political landscape. Central to this alleged plot is Amandla.site123, purportedly financed by Russian entities with the aim of influencing support for Jacob Zuma’s MK party.

Johnson outlines a network of relationships between Russian oligarchs, clandestine funding channels, and Zuma’s historical connections to Russian intelligence agencies. He highlights Russia’s strategic objectives, including its involvement in the contentious nuclear agreement during Zuma’s tenure. Johnson’s investigation suggests potential links to GRU activities in fuelling political disruptions, prompting calls for heightened vigilance against foreign interference as South Africa approaches upcoming elections.

Amandla.site123 churns out lots of content, from scathing critiques of political figures, particularly targeting Ramaphosa and the ANC, to fervently pro-Russian narratives advocating for Zuma’s MK party. Moreover, it delves into traditional anti-Semitic tropes, with articles alleging nefarious plots by “Ashkenazi fake Jews,” adding a controversial dimension to its already provocative stance.

It is feared that the platform could wield significant influence, manipulating the discourse within South Africa’s dynamic political landscape.

Social Media Presence

The site, allegedly headquartered in Johannesburg, amplifies its contentious narratives through its social media arms, branded as EzaseMsinga Newspaper on Facebook and Abasiki Bebunda Newspaper on X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

These social media platforms echo the website’s sentiments, often delving into traditional anti-Semitic narratives while championing pro-Russian ideologies, labelling President Vladimir Putin as a saint and President Cyril Ramaphosa as a satanist.

Abasiki Bebunda Newspaper X account links to the Amandla site in its bio.

In January, the X account liked Putin’s remarks on election rigging in the West, insinuating South Africa’s potential manipulation through the digitalisation of its electoral processes.

Delving deeper into their online presence, a pattern emerges as their social media profiles engage with other pro-Russian accounts, endorsing tweets under hashtags like #StandWithRussia and expressing support for President Putin and Iran.

They actively engage with online communities to grow their audience. They strategically share links to the Amandla website on Facebook groups aligned with their message, which have thousands of followers, like “Radical Economic Transformation” (a group supporting Jacob Zuma’s policies). This targeted approach allows them to effectively amplify their influence and reach potential readers who share their interests.

However, beneath the surface lies a glaring lack of attention to detail, evident in the low-quality, blurry photos and haphazard formatting that flood their articles, suggesting a prioritisation of spreading their narrative over presentation.

Manipulating Content

The revelations about Amandla.site123 go beyond mere dissemination of biased narratives. They are manipulating content of credible news publications and could be guilty of intellectual theft.

According to one post from 2020, evidence suggests that the website is utilising other people’s articles, publishing them under different titles and bylines. This practice not only undermines journalistic integrity but also contributes to the spread of false or misleading narratives.

Unfortunately, many readers skim headlines and the first paragraph, which is exactly what makes spreading misinformation so easy. 

The Amandla website further manipulates the narrative by adding biased side notes throughout the articles to influence how readers interpret the content.

The website employs this concerning method throughout its content.  Numerous articles, like “Bombshell: R500bn IMF ‘loan’ to SA was a personal bribe to Ramaphosa,” rely heavily on sensational headlines and conspiracy theories.

This specific article buries the originally published content under a 300-word side note filled with unsubstantiated claims, often sourced from other conspiracy websites.

Amandla further blurs the lines by adding unrelated images and weaving their own narrative into the mix, making it difficult to identify where one source ends and another begins.

Amandla article alongside the original articles it sources, with one of them being filed under a “Conspiracy” banner.

The impact of Amandla articles goes beyond South Africa. They can be seen shared on forums, reaching American audiences as well.

Questionable connections

Our investigations have also revealed the linked email address is associated with a pornographic website, further raising questions about the platform’s credibility.


A veil of secrecy blankets the authors behind Amandla. The site is built using a free service from SITE123, an Israeli website creation company founded in 2015.  While SITE123 offers upgrades for features like SEO and marketing, Amandla sticks to the free tier.

This effectively throws up a roadblock for anyone trying to trace the site’s origins through technical analysis.  Every digital fingerprint points back to SITE123, leaving the true identities of the people behind Amandla hidden in the shadows.

A check by Cifas, a UK fraud prevention service, lists the website as “dubious.” While ScamAdviser gives it a low trust score because the owner hides their identity and the website uses a generic platform – both red flags for disinformation campaigns.

While Amandla officially debuted in search engines in June 2020, a deeper dive reveals earlier content dating back to 2018 and 2019, featuring content relating to African music.

Amandla website appearance in June 2020.

Their initial slogan, “Think Differently. True Knowledge is Power,” seems to have given way to the more leading, “Unlock their minds and they will finally see the light.” This shift in messaging aligns with the content they now promote, as evidenced by some of their most popular stories: “The Illuminati, the CIA and Satanism” and “Undeniable Biblical proof that Yahusha (Jesus) is Black.”

Most popular articles account to website analysis tool.
Example article from Amandla in 2020.

Foreign Interference Through Disinformation: A Threat to South Africa’s Elections

According to Defence Web, disinformation campaigns in Africa have surged nearly fourfold since 2022, with 189 documented campaigns, nearly quadrupling the previous count, the intentional distortion of information for political purposes is accelerating, albeit likely underreported due to the clandestine nature of disinformation.

These findings coincide with a broader trend identified by the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR), indicating a surge in Russian disinformation activities across Africa. Targeting nations with fragile democratic institutions, these campaigns aim to influence political outcomes, often in favour of Russian-friendly regimes.

As South Africa navigates its democratic journey, the existence of platforms like Amandla.site123 highlight the urgent need for vigilance against external manipulation and misinformation. This serves as a stark reminder of the ever-looming spectre of foreign interference in the delicate fabric of South Africa’s democracy, especially with elections on the horizon.

Val Dockrell is a London-based Senior Investigator and Open Source Intelligence (“OSINT”) specialist who has led in-depth investigations in multiple jurisdictions around the world. She also speaks several languages and is a member of the Fraud Women’s Network. Her X (formerly Twitter) handle is @ValDockrell.