Twitter reacts after WHO revokes appointment of Mugabe

2017-10-22 16:15
Zimbabwe’s president Robert Gabriel Mugabe. (File: AFP)

Zimbabwe’s president Robert Gabriel Mugabe. (File: AFP)

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Cape Town – Twitter was abuzz on Sunday following the decision by the head of the World Health Organisation to withdraw his appointment of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a "goodwill ambassador".

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom 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.

See his statement below.

Ghebreyesus said his decision was in the "best interests" of the UN agency and that he had consulted with the Zimbabwe government about his decision.

An AFP report said that the WHO boss had faced mounting pressure to reverse the decision, including from some of the leading voices in global public health.

"The Mugabe appointment, coming at the end of (Tedros's) first 100 days, was a misstep," the director of the Global Health Institute at Harvard University, Ashish K Jha, said in an email shortly before the WHO decision was announced.

"Reversing will actually be a strong sign that the leadership listens and is willing to be responsive to views of the global public," he added.

The US ambassador to the United Nations during Barack Obama's administration, Samantha Power, tweeted: "Tedros will surely revoke terrible apptmt of Mugabe as goodwill ambassador, but damage is done.

"The only person whose health 93-yo Mugabe has looked out for in his 37 year reign is his own."

Multiple critics noted that Mugabe, who is 93 and in increasingly fragile health, travels abroad for medical care because Zimbabwe's health care system has been so severely decimated.

Richard Horton, the editor of the leading medical journal The Lancet said: "WHO DG stands for Director-General, not Dictator-General. Tedros, my friend, retract your decision, consult with colleagues, and rethink."

Tedros is the former health minister of Ethiopia.

His election as the first African leader of WHO was billed as a key moment for the continent, where much of organisation's work is based.

But his decision to honour one of Africa's most controversial leaders has raised questions about his leadership just four months into his tenure.

See Twitter reaction below 

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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