The World Health Organization (WHO) removed Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, as Goodwill Ambassador on Sunday, Oct. 22, after protests arose as a result of the leader’s corrupt history.
The position was handed to Mugabe last week and was met with outrage and confusion from the global community. Mugabe has been president of Zimbabwe since 1980, and has committed a multitude of human rights abuses and showcased his corrupt nature in his presidency. A prime example would be when he “unleashed his personal militia” after losing an election in 2000 for the first time. More recently, in 2009 he spent more than a quarter million dollars on his own birthday party, blissfully ignoring the famine and cholera outbreak in his country.
Perhaps the most ironic part of the appointment of Mugabe in the first place was the reasoning behind it. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general, stated that Zimbabwe was, “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies” under the leadership of Mugabe. This could not be any further from the truth. In all actuality, Zimbabwe’s public health system has extremely deteriorated in the past decade, to the point of an international crisis.
Mugabe fails to demonstrate a basic understanding of economic principles, and his ignorance caused a massive inflation of 500 billion percent in Zimbabwe in 2008. This essentially made all money in Zimbabwe worthless, ruining the public health system, alongside the education system.
Families resorted to bartering and paying for medical services with whatever goods they had, such as peanuts. Hospitals were forced to reuse medical tools and gloves and frequently experienced power outages and shortages of blood supplies. Mugabe himself has had to fly outside Zimbabwe to receive his medical treatment, further illustrating just how much he damaged the country.
Thankfully, the world was paying attention and was rightfully outraged over the appointment. Twenty-eight health organizations, the State Department, and various world leaders (including our favorite Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau) expressed their shock, and in some cases, offense at the decision.
One can only guess at what state of mind the leaders of WHO were in when choosing, of all people, President Robert Mugabe as Goodwill Ambassador.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia