HARARE, Zimbabwe has rubbished the recent withdrawal of goodwill ambassadorial role that had been bestowed on President Robert Mugabe by the World Health Organization (WHO), saying that he would have rejected the appointment anyway if he had been informed about it prior to the announcement.
Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services George Charamba told state media that Mugabe had not been formally told about the appointment as WHO goodwill ambassador for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa and only got to know about it from the media. If he had been informed, he would have rejected it because it was not in Zimbabwe's national interest to do so, Charamba was quoted saying in Tuesday's Herald newspaper.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhainom Ghebreyesus last Wednesday announced Mugabe's appointment as goodwill ambassador during a WHO conference on NCDs in Montevideo, Uruguay. However, he rescinded the appointment four days later following pressure from Western powers and organizations.
Ghebreyesus said he had also consulted with the government of Zimbabwe and they had concluded that this decision was in the best interests of WHO. "The president was quite surprised that he had been appointed a goodwill ambassador by the WHO," Charamba said.
"There was nothing, whether verbal or written, from the WHO intimating that WHO wished to make the president a goodwill ambassador in respect of NCDs." Foreign Minister Walter Mzembi, who accompanied Mugabe to the conference, said on Sunday that the United Nations system needs to be reformed. He was responding to Ghebreyesus' announcement of the decision to withdraw the appointment.
"What has happened is the reason why the UN system has to be reformed and democratized so that it does not pander to the whims of a few powerful nations," he said." It is clear that the UN agencies are not independent and can be rail-roaded into making decisions that please a few nations," Mzembi said.