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Africa

Zimbabwe's Mugabe was never asked to head WHO - spokesman

media President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace attend a rally of his ruling ZANU (PF) in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, July 29, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has claimed he was never asked to be a goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation. This comes after international criticism forced the WHO to cancel its planned appointment of Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador for non-communicable diseases in Africa.

Presidential spokesman, George Charamba, told state media that had Mugabe been given the position he would have rejected it.

He said the WHO is against tobacco growing and selling and that this is a key foreign currency earner for Zimbabwe.

Representing the UN agency as an ambassador would have been contradictory and injured the national interest, he said.

Many in Zimbabwe’s vibrant social media community weren’t convinced by the spokesman’s version of events.

After all, state media had reported on the appointment last week, hailing it as another feather in Mugabe’s cap.

Zimbabwe’s public health system is in a difficult situation with shortages of drugs, outbreaks of disease like typhoid and poorly equipped hospitals.

Workers at the WHO offices in Harare have had to paint over some graffiti that appeared this weekend.

It read “Thanks WHO. Don’t do it again. We’re watching”.

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