The Latest: Charity hails decision to revoke Mugabe honor
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The Latest on Zimbabwe’s president and the World Health Organization (all times local):
The decision by the World Health Organization’s director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus to revoke his appointment of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador” has been praised by Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome Trust, a major British charitable foundation. “I welcome the decision to rescind the appointment of Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador with immediate effect,” said Farrar in a statement. “Great leaders take time to listen to constructive debate, reflect and overturn bad decisions. Dr. Tedros deserves all our support to ensure he and WHO build a global health movement that is inclusive and works to improve health for everyone based on universal values of fairness and equality.”
Farrar had earlier criticized the decision to name Mugabe to the position, saying “Robert Mugabe fails in every way to represent the values WHO should stand for.”
Zimbabwe’s government says it respects the decision by the World Health Organization chief to withdraw the appointment of President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi tells state broadcaster ZBC that the U.N. 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.
The head of the World Health Organization on Sunday withdrew his appointment of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador.”
In a statement issued Sunday 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.