CLAIM: In a sensational report, various blogs have reported that the President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, accused the World Health Organisation (WHO) of offering $20 million as a bribe for the poisoning of the controversial COVID-19 Organics remedy.
The report shared on the internet, and various social media platforms, including WhatsApp, said the international organisation’s move to poison the herbal remedy made from Artemisia is because it was produced in Africa and not the West.
The claim was published on YouTube.
On May 14, 2020, a Tanzanian newspaper, Tanzania Perspective, printed articles headlined, “WHO offered $20 million as a bribe to ensure that the COVID-19 medicine poisoned – Madagascar President.”
Many reports used a snapshot of the newspaper as a reference.
FACT: COVID Organics (CVO) is a drink made from Artemisia, a plant used in treating malaria in Madagascar alongside other indigenous herbs, which have been promoted by President Andry Rajoelina to cure coronavirus patients within ten days.
In response, the WHO has asked for caution, saying the remedy should be passed through clinical trials to ascertain the claim.
The reports consistently referenced other statements made by President Rajoelina in an interview with French journalists, Christophe Boisbouvier from Radio France Internationale and Marc Perelman from France24.
CDD Fact-checkers reviewed the interview and did not find anywhere the President made the allegation of being offered a bribe. A detailed search of the internet shows there is no other report available online where President Rajoelina made the statement.
An English translation of the interview by the CDD fact-check team did not also reveal the claim of being offered $20 million. Even when probed by the interviewers to mention names, President Rajoelina used organisations instead. “No one will stop us from moving forward – not a country, not an organisation,” Rajoelina said in response to questions about the concerns raised by the WHO.
The Tanzania Perspective, the primary source of the story, is known for spreading misinformation and using sensational headlines. On April 14, 2020, they printed a front-page headline, “World Bank applauds Tanzania on anti-COVID-19 policy”.
In a statement released on April 14, 2020, the World Bank said the report was untrue. The Bank stated that its assessment of the economic impact of COVID-19 and policy responses in Sub-Saharan Africa never singled out Tanzania.
CONCLUSION: The claim that the President of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina said in an interview that the WHO offered the country twenty million dollars to contaminate the country’s COVID1-19 remedy is FALSE.:
The Centre for Democracy and Development is urging members of the public to verify all information before sharing.