Why the WHO pushed Mugabe aside

World Health Organization has revoked the appointment of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe as “goodwill ambassador” considering that the choice drew global outrage and criticism after WHO director-general, Tedros Ghebreyesus announced Mugabe’s acceptance at a conference in Uruguay on non-communicable diseases.

In a statement issued, Tedros said, after carefully listenening to concerns expressed by many and consultation with the Government of Zimbabwe, it is in the best interest of the global health body for the appointment to be revoked. He added that he had reflected and decided to change his mind, calling it in the best interests of the U.N. health agency.

The appointment that led to a mass outcry from international leaders and health experts, is one out of many factors that spurred the decision of WHO director-general to cancel the appointment of the Zimbabwe’s president.

According to a statement condemning Mugabe’s WHO appointment and demanding for it to be rescinded without delay; Global Affairs Canada said that “Given the serious human rights abuses under Mugabe’s regime, such an appointment is inconceivable and unacceptable. It goes against the goals of protecting the world’s most vulnerable populations. Therefore, Canada calls for this appointment to be rescinded”.

Likewise, other organizations including the World Heart Federation and Cancer Research U.K. released a statement condemning the appointment, noting that health officials were shocked and deeply concerned as it clearly contradicts the United Nations ideals of respect for human rights and human dignity.

World’s oldest head of state, Mugabe has long been criticized at home for going overseas for medical treatment as Zimbabwe’s once-prosperous economy falls apart and the country’s health care system deteriorates. Mugabe also faces U.S. sanctions over his government’s human rights abuses.

Charity Physicians for Human Rights in a released report documenting failures in the southern African nation’s health system, noted that Mugabe’s policies had led to a man-made crisis of “shuttering of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school and the beatings of health workers”. “The government of Robert Mugabe presided over the dramatic reversal of its population’s access to food, clean water, basic sanitation and health care,” the group concluded.

Welcoming the WHO’s cancellation, the United Nation Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in a statement has called for a full, independent and international inquiry into any possible deals made between the WHO chief—Ethiopia’s former foreign minister—and Zimbabwe’s ruler.

“We ask Dr. Tedros to agree to a meeting in Geneva of victims of Mugabe, which we will gladly organize, giving the WHO chief a chance to compensate for the damage he has done to the cause of human rights in Zimbabwe. He should now honor the victims, instead of the perpetrator” said Neuer.

“The tyrant of Zimbabwe is the last person who should have been legitimized by a U.N. position of any kind. Something is very ill at the U.N.’s world health agency” he added.