WHO reverses Mugabe position

Reactions of shock and horror followed the WHO's announcement that Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe was appointed as a goodwill ambassador.

23 October 2017 | Africa

The head of the World Health Organisation says he has reversed his appointment of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador”.

In a tweet, Tedros Ghebreyesus said that “I'm listening. I hear your concerns. Rethinking the approach in light of WHO values. I will issue a statement as soon as possible.”
Late on Sunday, he announced a full reversal of the decision saying it is in the best interests of the WHO.

The appointment of Mugabe was met with widespread shock and condemnation, including from the United States, which sanctioned him more than a decade ago over his government's human rights abuses.

The 93-year-old Mugabe has been criticised at home for going abroad for medical treatment as his once-prosperous country's economy suffers.

“The decision to appoint Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador is deeply disappointing and wrong,” said Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, a major British charitable foundation. “Robert Mugabe fails in every way to represent the values WHO should stand for.”

Ireland's health minister, Simon Harris, called the appointment “offensive, bizarre.” 'Not the Onion,” tweeted the head of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, in a reference to the satirical news site.

With Mugabe on hand, WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia announced the appointment at a conference in Uruguay this week on non-communicable diseases.

Tedros, who became WHO's first African director-general this year, said Mugabe could use the role “to influence his peers in his region” on the issue. He described Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies.” A WHO spokesperson confirmed the comments to The Associated Press.

Two dozen organisations — including the World Heart Federation, Action Against Smoking and Cancer Research UK — released a statement slamming the appointment, saying health officials were “shocked and deeply concerned” and citing his “long track record of human rights violations”.

The groups said they had raised their concerns with Tedros on the sidelines of the conference, to no avail. The UN agencies typically choose celebrities as ambassadors to draw attention to issues of concern, but they hold little actual power.

Zimbabwe's government has not commented, but the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper called the appointment a “new feather in president's cap”.

The 93-year-old Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, has come under criticism at home for his frequent overseas travels that have cost impoverished Zimbabwe millions of dollars. His repeated visits to Singapore have heightened concerns over his health, even as he pursues re-election next year.

The US in 2003 imposed targeted sanctions, a travel ban and an asset freeze against Mugabe and close associates, citing his government's rights abuses and evidence of electoral fraud.

NAMPA/AP

Similar News

 

EFF set to take 10% from the ANC

1 day - 24 September 2018 | Africa

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) could double its support in next year's elections at the expense of the ANC, which could shed as much as...

Over 200 feared dead

1 day - 24 September 2018 | Africa

Grieving families were yesterday preparing to bury victims of Tanzania's devastating ferry disaster, with more than 200 confirmed dead after the crowded boat capsized in...

Death toll of Tanzanian ferry disaster passes 200

2 days ago - 23 September 2018 | Africa

The death toll from the ferry that capsized in Lake Victoria has risen to 218 and may further grow, state media has reported. Minister for...

Cholera death toll climbs

1 week ago - 18 September 2018 | Africa

The capital of Zimbabwe, Harare, has been inundated by the outbreak, with more than 3 000 cases reported. NGOs have accused the government of spending...

Geingob mourns Annan

1 month - 18 August 2018 | Africa

President Hage Geingob has expressed his sadness at the passing of the former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Geingob described the late UN...

Creating prosperity is paramount - Geingob

1 month - 17 August 2018 | Africa

President Hage Geingob, in his acceptance speech as incoming SADC chairperson, this morning said the region has a mandate to fulfill prosperity and eradicate poverty...

Sisulu bemoans trade bottlenecks

1 month - 17 August 2018 | Africa

Bottlenecks, as well as inadequate infrastructure and customs procedures, are among the issues that SADC will have to tackle as a matter of urgency, in...

Visa exemptions to be expedited

1 month - 16 August 2018 | Africa

SADC countries that have not taken initiatives to operationalise bilateral visa exemptions have been directed by the SADC Council of Ministers to expedite this and...

New dawn for DRC

1 month - 15 August 2018 | Africa

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) president Joseph Kabila's decision not to stand for elections this December paves the way for the country to finally bounce...

Mnangagwa oye natango omupresidende Zimbabwe

1 month - 15 August 2018 | Africa

Emmerson Mnangagwa oye ta kalelepo Zimbambwe pethimbo lyomutumba gwiigwana yaSADC, ngoka tagu ningilwa mOvenduka, shaNamibia oshiwike shika.Emmerson Mnangagwa oye ta kala oupresidende gwaZimbabwe e na...

Latest News

Chinese swoop on Rössing

17 hours ago | Business

CATHERINE SASMAN State firm China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is said to be in pole position to acquire the majority...

RDP bungles councillor’s resignation

17 hours ago | Politics

KENYA KAMBOWEA former Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) town councillor, who resigned from the party about seven weeks ago, says he is still receiving...

Asparagus project in Omusati boosted

17 hours ago | Business

Namibia's first-ever asparagus agro-processing factory will be sustained by a 360-hectare production area once full capacity is reached.A 60 ha plantation is already underway at...

Kalkfeld business market for free

17 hours ago | Business

A public market at the Kalkfeld business park under the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) will be leased to the Otjozondjupa Regional Council (ORC) from October...

Swapo elders ‘ignorant’

17 hours ago | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES The Damara King’s Council has branded the Swapo Party Elders’ Council ignorant following its suggestion last week that...

Entrepreneurs: When the going gets...

17 hours ago | Banking

Entrepreneurs are people are skilled at adapting and being resilient in uncertain situations and come up with new, different and innovative ideas.“The challenges currently being...

TransNamib’s shocking meltdown

17 hours ago | Columns

The Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (Natau) has become the latest organisation to hit out at the TransNamib board for alleged interference. The Paul...

Laughter is the best medicine

17 hours ago | Health

Henriette Lamprecht – It’s contagious and good medicine – not only for the body, but for the mind and soul as well. It lightens your...

Smelling the roses is not...

17 hours ago | Health

In today’s rat race it’s easy to lose your way in the daily grind while trying to keep your head above water. Our responsibilities as...

Load More