PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has accepted the decision by the World Health Organisation to unceremoniously strip him of the honour of being the UN agency’s goodwill ambassador for non-communicable diseases, Foreign Affairs Minister Mzembi said Sunday.
Barely four days after announcing Mugabe as WHO’s political figurehead for NCDs, director of the UN agency general Tedros Ghabreyesus was forced into an embarrassing climb-down amid global protests ranging from Zimbabwe, Britain, the US and Canada.
Responding, Mzembi said Mugabe will however not stop working to raise awareness for non-communicable diseases.
“We respect the WHO decision as much as we respected the initial decision to honour our President,” Mzembi said in a statement.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign minister, only appointed last week, however added that the decision was a loss to WHO rather than an embarrassment to Mugabe
“The inordinate noise around the designation of (the) President as WHO Africa global ambassador does not assist the cause in the first place,” said Mzembi.
“If anything, it is who that has benefitted 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 non-communicable diseases 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 the brand equity from unnecessary besmirching”.
The minister added that Mugabe would now concentrate on Zimbabwe’s membership obligations.
“So, on the balance its wiser to let go and help WHO focus on its mandate while Zimbabwe (focuses) on its membership obligations.
“That not-withstanding the President will carry on with his passion for NCDs which are killing over 40 million people per annum with 80% of them from the developing world.
“That more than the global ambassadorship, was the motivation and answering Sustainable Development Goal 3. That is to cut premature deaths from NCDs by a third going forward to 2030.”
While Mzembi was using diplomacy to deal with what essentially was a sticky situation and global humiliation for the 93-year-old Zanu PF leader, his Higher Education counterpart Jonathan Moyo was stocking the fires on social media.
“… history will record that ‘UK’s objections’ were misrepresented by some charlatans as the views of the majority of Zimbabweans!
“If @DrTedros wasn’t part of a sinister plot in the first place and if his decision was professional & with goodwill, then he must stick to it!” Moyo said.
He added: “This is the position of the silent majority who are silent. A reversal will indeed mean that @WHO had a sinister plot in the first place!”