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

 

Low-key Mugabe bash

3 days ago - 22 February 2018 | Africa

Zimbabwe's ex-president Robert Mugabe is reportedly not going to have his regular extravagant birthday celebrations this year despite the 21st of February being declared a...

Tsvangirai welcomed home

6 days ago - 19 February 2018 | Africa

Hundreds thronged Zimbabwe's main airport on Saturday as the body of opposition icon Morgan Tsvangirai, who died of cancer in neighbouring South Africa, arrived home...

MDC leadership battle is on

6 days ago - 19 February 2018 | Africa

The family of Zimbabwe's late opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been caught up in the party's succession battle.Family members this...

Maputo sees water rationing

1 week ago - 16 February 2018 | Africa

Mozambique authorities on Wednesday introduced water rationing to more than a million residents in the capital Maputo due to a severe drought.The city is cutting...

Champion of Zimbabwe

1 week ago - 16 February 2018 | Africa

Morgan Tsvangirai, 65, who has died after a battle with cancer, was the face of Zimbabwe's downtrodden opposition for decades.Jail, beatings by pro-regime thugs and...

Righting land-grab wrongs

1 week ago - 14 February 2018 | Africa

The Zimbabwean government has reportedly set up a committee that will spearhead the process of compensating white farmers whose farms where seized during the country's...

Kenyan crackdown continues

2 weeks ago - 05 February 2018 | Africa

Kenyan police on Saturday briefly detained another key government critic over his alleged involvement in the recent mock inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga as...

Catholic crackdown in DRC

2 weeks ago - 05 February 2018 | Africa

Police “kidnapped” a Catholic priest on Saturday after mass in Kinshasa, witnesses said, amid spiralling tensions between the church and the Democratic Republic of Congo's...

Plea for Boko Haram displaced

3 weeks ago - 02 February 2018 | Africa

The UN refugee agency appealed on Wednesday for US$157 million to help over a quarter of a million people affected by the insurgency led by...

Zim white farmers included

3 weeks ago - 02 February 2018 | Africa

Zimbabwe's land ministry has issued a directive that would see an end to the discrimination of white farmers as they have now been included on...

Latest News

DebMarine prelims to kick off...

1 day - 24 February 2018 | Sports

The DebMarine Namibia Cup kicks off on 3 March countrywide, with clubs in the first and second divisions battling it out to secure a place...

Outjo donkey abattoir off the...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Agriculture

Plans to build a donkey abattoir in Outjo have folded.Fu-Hai Trading Enterprises, reportedly co-owned by Swakopmund estate agent Shane Quinton Hangula and a Chinese business...

One Africa Television Chief Executive...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Business

Namibia’s first ever free-to-air, independent TV broadcaster in Namibia, One Africa Television was founded in 2003, the brainchild of Namibian photographer and businessman, the late...

3 Key Social Media Trends...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Education

Like it or not, you are recruiting in the world of Google. Just as easily as you can go to the Internet to look things...

Union warns private schools

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Labour

JEMIMA BEUKES The Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) intends to clamp down on fly-by-night private schools that allegedly exploit...

Mwoombola fights back

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Justice

Former health permanent secretary Andreas Mwoombola has launched a two-fold application in the Labour Court, in which he wants to court to either halt his...

Elephants cause havoc

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Environment

Several elephant herds have over the past few weeks caused havoc on farms in the Outjo District, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in...

The Basics of Branding

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Business

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it...

How to Communicate Effectively in...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Education

Communication is essential for the smooth running of a business, whether it is between colleagues, with a client or with customers.With technology creating a multitude...

Load More