23 October 2017

Zimbabwe: Mugabe WHO Envoy Stripping Sparks Social Media Euphoria

Photo: New Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe is hardly in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans on Sunday took to social media to celebrate President Robert Mugabe's embarrassing stripping of a Wealth Health Organisation (WHO) ambassadorial role.

President Mugabe was in Uruguay last Wednesday where he was appointed the continent's first ever goodwill ambassador on non-communicable diseases (NCD).

Announcing the accolade, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said this was because the Zimbabwean leader's administration has "placed universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health for all".

The controversial conferment was met global outrage with most critics of the decision saying Mugabe was not befitting of the honour as he has run down his own country's health system which he occasionally abandoned to seek expensive treatment outside.

But Ghebreyesu on Sunday took a bold decision to revoke the appointment, igniting global admiration for WHO's principled stance.

Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the power of social media had triumphed over President Mugabe's dictatorial regime.

"They may take away our right to demonstrate, ban away our matches & tear gas our protests but our smart phones & tablets are battle fields," said Biti, also PDP leader.

He added: "Every tin pot must now know that the world is now a very small place. That authoritarianism is elastic & temporal."

MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu also said in a tweet that the UN health agent had finally seen sense.

"WHO finally sees sense: Rescinds Mugabe's unjustified appointment as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCD," Gutu said through twitter."

Firebrand youth protest group, Tajamuka also welcomed the decision to "reshuffle Robert Mugabe from the undeserved ambassadorial role he had parachuted himself to assume".

"Mugabe presided over the collapse of health institutions in Zimbabwe and cannot be a brand on health issues," the group said in a statement.

"He superintended over water crisis in Zimbabwe that claimed lives of thousands of citizens due to the cholera epidemic of 2007/8.

"Mugabe himself has lost confidence on Zimbabwean hospitals and seeks medication in the Eastern nations where he spends millions of US dollars from taxpayers' money. Even his family has done the same.

"Appointing ailing Robert who sleeps everywhere every time, to be a brand of health at a global level is a serious error in reasoning. There is no premise to conclude Robert's position to such ambassadorial position."

#My Zimbabwe, another protest platform, also applauded WHO's ability to "self-correct" over Mugabe's appointment.

The group said the decision "restores the credibility it has lost as a world body in the past few days".

"It's encouraging to learn that as a nation we are not living in isolation. Our cause and our struggle for freedom is being recognized internationally. All the world corners join us in objecting the shocking recognition of Mugabe as a health champion.

"Mugabe is a shameless and cruel old man who doesn't deserve even an inch of recognition or acknowledgement by a civilized world."

Former Mugabe spin doctor and cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo, typically, tried to draw conspiracy theories into the WHO decision.

"And history will record that 'UK's objections' were misrepresented by some charlatans as the views of the majority of Zimbabweans!" he said through twitter.

"If @DrTedros wasn't part of a sinister plot in the first place & if his decision was professional & with goodwill, then he must stick to it!"

Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi described social media talk around the Mugabe debacle as "inordinate noise" adding that it was in fact WHO which has generated mileage through the use of his boss's big name.

"On a name recognition scale, this name beats them all, but it is our business to protect its brand equity from unnecessary besmirching," Mzembi said, adding, "So on the balance it's wiser to let go, and help WHO focus on its mandate while we focus Zimbabwe on its membership obligations."

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