Johannesburg – Zimbabwe’s government says it respects the decision by the World Health Organisation chief to withdraw the appointment of President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador”.
Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi tells state broadcaster ZBC that the UN health agency “benefited tremendously” from the original decision to name Mugabe to the post because of the global attention that resulted.
“On a name-recognition scale this name beats them all, but it is our business to protect its brand equity from unnecessary besmirching,” Mzembi says. “So on the balance, it is wiser to let go.”
The decision to name Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador” on non-communicable diseases was 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.
In a statement, WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus said he decided to rescind his appointment of Mugabe, 93, 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 the World Health Organization.
Ghebreyesus also said he had consulted with the Zimbabwe government about his decision.