The Zimbabwean government has reportedly said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) was the “biggest loser” following its decision to revoke the appointment of President Robert Mugabe as its Goodwill Ambassador for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as heart attacks, strokes and asthma in Africa.
Mugabe, 93, was in Uruguay last week where the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesushe announced his goodwill ambassador role. The conference saw world leaders pledged to reduce premature deaths by a third.
The nonagenarian’s appointment was, however, met with shock and condemnation by health officials and countries, including the United States, which sanctioned Mugabe more than a decade ago over his government’s human rights abuses.
Ghebreyesus on Sunday said he had made the decision to rescind Mugabe’s appointment after listening to the flood of outrage and concerns voiced by international leaders and health experts.
He said he revoked Mugabe’s position in the best interests of WHO.
But, according to Zimbabwe’s state-owned broadcaster ZBC, Minister of Foreign Affairs Walter Mzembi said that although Zimbabwe respected the WHO’s decision, “the global body is the biggest loser”.
“The inordinate noise around the designation of the President [Mugabe] as WHO Global Ambassador for Africa does not assist the cause in the first place. If anything it is WHO that has benefited tremendously from its decision in nominating President Mugabe to lead the fight against NCDs through media amplification of WHO itself, and curiosity by the general public on what really are NCDs, by tagging the name Mugabe to the debate.
“On a name recognition scale, this name beats them all, but it is our business to protect its brand equity from unnecessary besmirching,” Mzembi was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, according to New Zimbabwe.com, Mugabe’s “embarrassing” stripping of the WHO post had many in Zimbabwe celebrating, with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson Obert Gutu saying that the UN health agent had “finally seen some sense”. — News24