IAN KHAMA ‘mocks’ MUGABE | Botswana President Ian Khama yesterday rubbed salt on President Robert Mugabe’s injured ego, poking fun of the Zanu PF leader’s humiliation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which dethroned him of the goodwill ambassadorial role given to him last week.
“W.H.O.?” Khama said on his Facebook page drawing a host of comments regarding the decision by WHO to strip Mugabe of his role as non-communicable diseases goodwill ambassador conferred on him only last Wednesday.
Zimbabwean opposition parties claimed that WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had appointed Mugabe as “pay-back” for the 93-year-old politician’s support during his campaign for the United Nations agency job. It has also been suggested that Mugabe and Ghebreyesus have a common “affinity” for former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who remains holed up in Harare since he fled his country in the 1990s.
Ghebreyesus’s spokesperson Sarah Russell yesterday denied her boss’ alleged links with Mugabe and exiled dictator Mengistu.
“Thanks for the message to Dr Tedros. Both claims you make are untrue,” Russell said.
Main opposition MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi and Ghebreyesus had colluded to “drag the UN into the mud” by giving Mugabe the UN agency’s role of goodwill ambassador.
“Mengistu Haile Miriam is actually a fugitive from justice in Ethiopia. He has been tried in absentia and found guilty of committing crimes against humanity in that country. What would you expect from the WHO director-general who once served under one of the world’s most brutal and cruel fascist dictators?” Gutu queried.
“And Walter Mzembi, our new Foreign Affairs minister, is utterly and thoroughly clueless on matters pertaining to international relations and diplomacy. He is excitable, shallow and misdirected.”
People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti said: He (Ghebreyesus) would obviously have underlying sympathy for the Harare dictator given he worked with Mengistu. Whatever they say, it has been a diplomatic disaster for Mugabe’s handlers.”
But Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo claimed Ghebreyesus had been “blackmailed” into reversing his initial decision.
“It’s a no-brainer that Dr Tedros was blackmailed by global bullies into cancelling his own decision with the result of leaving WHO exposed!” Moyo said.
Mzembi, who reportedly played a pivotal role in lobbying for Mugabe to be appointed goodwill ambassador, said the issue would, however, not strain relations between Zimbabwe and the UN.
“If it did, I wouldn’t be here today. I am here to affirm the supremacy of the UN itself. The politics of UN agencies will deal with that as it comes and we decided to move on beyond the rescission of the ambassadorship role on our President. We think moving on is a greater move than being held and arrested by the conflict being raised around it.”
UN country representative Bishow Parajuli also said they would not allow the incident to strain relations. He said by having government officials at the UN Day commemorations, it was a clear message that they were still prepared to work together.
“Let’s not worry about these things and move on to how we can bring the best of health to the Zimbabwean population, best of education and best of food security. My gratitude and gratefulness for those way forward and moving forward elements,” he said.