Mugabe removed as WHO goodwill ambassador

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been removed as a goodwill ambassador, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday following an outrage among Western donors and rights groups at the appointment. Scarlett Cvitanovich reports.

MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY / MWENEZI AND CHINHOYI ZIMBABWE / UNITED NATIONS / LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (REUTERS / SABC POOL / UNTV / UNICEF) – Robert Mugabe has been removed as a World Health Organization goodwill ambassador – only five days after he was given the role.

The Organization stripping the Zimbabwean president of the position on Sunday (October 22) – following outrage from Western donors and rights groups at his appointment.

The body’s director released a statement saying he had listened to concerns and heard the, quote, ‘different issues’ raised.

Critics had urged the organization to overturn the appointment, criticizing the president for destroying his country’s economy and for numerous human rights abuses during his 37 years as a leader.

Even the British government said the decision was, quote, ‘surprising and disappointing’ and risked overshadowing the organization’s global work.

The World Health Organization had hoped Mugabe would influence his peers in Africa to prioritize non-communicable disease, but health leaders described the move as unjustifiable and wrong.

In Zimbabwe, medical staff often strike over pay issues, there are frequent drug shortages and Mugabe himself travels to Asia for medical treatment.