If you think your own government’s response to coronavirus has been lacklustre, spare a thought for Uganda.
There the same people that brought in some of the world’s most viciously anti-LGBT+ laws are in charge.
And their answer to COVID-19 appears to be dangerously unhinged.
Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, promised she had the solution yesterday (16 March).
She claims an American inventor has partnered with a Ugandan biochemist to manufacture a spray and hand-wash, which instantly kills the coronavirus.
She told parliament: ‘A professor who manufactured a treatment for coronavirus in the US was here last week and has donated the patent to Uganda. And within a fortnight, the treatment will be right here in Uganda.
‘So not that we should relax but there is hope and the treatment will start here in Uganda.’
‘Coronavirus will be over’
The details of the product are not known. Of course, it is true that thorough, regular hand washing and using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be highly effective in tackling the spread of the coronavirus.
However, despite people increasing handwashing and hand sanitizer use, the virus is so widespread that it will continue to rise.
But Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has also welcomed the news of Uganda’s special spray.
He joined a joint address where officials promised the new spray is ‘the only product in the world that kills the virus’. Furthermore, they pledged it would be available in Uganda in 14 days.
Indeed, Museveni pledged the spray wouldn’t just kill the virus causing COVID-19. It will also kill all viruses.
Museveni said: ‘This coronavirus will be over. But then there will be other viruses. So that chemical will kill the others. Because if you only make it for corona, what happens when there are others.’
His fellow speakers promised it will ‘kill all viruses’ and ‘including bacteria’.
‘He twisted science to justify gay hate’
Many in the LGBT+ community will remember both Museveni and Kadaga from their role in promoting new anti-LGBT+ laws in 2012 to 2014.
Activists dubbed their vicious legislation to further criminalize homosexuality the ‘Kill The Gays Bill’. In the end, parliament reduced the maximum penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ to life in prison. It eventually became law in 2014.
However, Ugandans response to the pair’s promises over COVID-19 show that others are just as cynical of them as the LGBT+ community.
Many have questioned why Uganda should get the spray first, before virus hotspots such as China or Italy. Others have pointed to Ugandan officials ‘incompetence’ in tackling fake products in the past. And people have appealed to the government to tell them the truth – that scientists have not yet found a cure.
As Edwin Sesange, of the African Equality Foundation, said: ‘I am sceptical of the scientific innovation commissioned by the President who twisted science to justify gay hate and criminalization of LGBTI people in Uganda.’
Of course, Sesange and everyone would dearly love the claims to be true. But in reality, we suspect Museveni and Kadaga’s charlatanism is about to be exposed again. And, just as with their anti-LGBT+ laws, the people of Uganda will be the losers.