From a dishonest govt to Covid-19 fake experts?

Sunday May 09 2021
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Alan Tacca

By Alan Tacca

As President Museveni enters his next term in office, the resurgence of Covid-19 in various guises and the mayhem it is causing in places like India has made many governments intensify their focus on the pandemic.

From mid-March last year, President Museveni was centre-stage in presenting the reasoning of medical scientists and proclaiming the measures that his government thought would keep the citizens safe.

The centre-stage position was a political statement that he was in control, which most people accepted. And they religiously waited for the next presidential address on Covid-19.

However, by November/December, so much money had apparently been stolen by government officials and their business associates in the name of addressing Covid-19 challenges, so much injustice, violence and death had been thrown at Opposition politicians, and so many ordinary citizens had lost their livelihood while government extravagance was growing, there were very few people still listening with a positive attitude to the President. 

His own social distance observance looked more like an arrogant exhibition of his privileged position than an example to emulate.

With radio and television audiences now disenchanted, and Museveni doing nothing to change their conviction that he leads a dishonest government, all sorts of charlatans are talking about Covid-19.

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Our social media junkies are…well, junkies. But the stuff propagated by some of our broadcasters is hardly more professional.

Perhaps because of the ubiquitous talk show format, and a situation where some of the station owners cannot imagine a week, or even a day, when their voices are not on air, a lot of our talk show output tends to be station-owner-generated material, plus the stuff produced by station-owner ‘loyalists’, all of them talking to themselves, sometimes for hours, and wandering into areas where they have no competence.

Almost like at malwa clubs, they feel secure as fraternities chatting in studios that are ‘home’.

So, for months, Impact FM could promote dubious Covid-19 conspiracy theories and anti-vaccine content as the owning ‘apostle’ wanted. 

And although after a prominent traditional leader got vaccinated the ‘apostle’ somewhat backtracked, he could not rest before opining that this was evidence that the monarch did not have serious underlying health challenges. 

Before long, a ‘bishop’ on the same station ridiculed Kenya’s experts for adopting a policy of one AstraZeneca vaccine jab for more people, instead of administering a second jab to a few. 

Many people listening to these broadcasts would be completely confused.

One: The conspiracy theories about powerful Western interests exploiting Covid-19 to create a new world order are hogwash.

Two: Medical experts give vaccination priority to the elderly, the vulnerable, (including) those who have chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and so on. The exact opposite of what the ‘apostle’ was saying.

Three: Our dear ‘bishop’ thinks that vaccines work like antibiotics. He has heard that taking under-doses of prescribed antibiotics is dangerous. It leads to microbial drug resistance. He has assumed that half-dose vaccines are equally dangerous.

Well, vaccines work very differently. They do not attack the troublesome microbe (in this case a virus) as antibiotics do. 

They actually attack the body (which the virus also does), but in a small controlled way. The body’s immune system uses the experience to ‘learn’ how to attack the real virus.

Far from being dangerous, medical experts have shown that where two Covid-19 jabs are recommended, one jab will give substantial protection and is much better than no jab at all. That is why the Kenyan experts have decided to spread this advantage to more people. 

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.

altaccaone@gmail.com

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