Govt clears air on WHO furore

Mr Charamba

Mr Charamba

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter—
President Mugabe was not formally informed of his so-called appointment as WHO goodwill ambassador in the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and would have rejected the invitation to take up the post as it is not in Zimbabwe’s national interest to do so. This was said by Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba, who is also President Mugabe’s spokesperson. Mr Charamba said this while responding to WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ decision to rescind the invitation following pressure from Western countries.

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He said events over the weekend renewed debate on the need for reforms at the United Nations to ensure that it is representative to the views of countries in the world. “The President was quite surprised that he had been appointed a goodwill ambassador by the WHO,” said Mr Charamba.

“There was nothing, whether verbal or written, from the WHO intimating that WHO wished to make the President a goodwill ambassador in respect of NCDs. The President went to Uruguay to represent Zimbabwe as a member State of the UN and, under it, of the WHO, which is an agency of the UN. He did not go to Uruguay to accost anyone for any role, whether symbolic or real. The decision, if it was one, to designate the President of Zimbabwe as goodwill ambassador is something that he learnt about from the news; which news claimed this had been expressed at a press conference done by one of the WHO officials.

“For his entire stay in Uruguay, there was nothing that was intimated to him suggesting that designation, and, in any case, there is always a formal way of communicating with Heads of States and to date there is no such communication. What it means, therefore, is that the WHO cannot take back what it never gave in the first place, and as far as he is concerned, all this hullabaloo over a non-appointment is in fact a non-event, but a non-event which reflects a negative predisposition towards Zimbabwe.”

Mr Charamba said President Mugabe would not have taken up the position as it would have required him to campaign against growing and selling tobacco, which is Zimbabwe’s biggest foreign currency earner. WHO has a definite position against growing and selling tobacco. “As a matter of fact, had anything been put to the President in the direction of helping WHO by the way of being a goodwill ambassador, the President would have found such a request to be an awkward one,” said Mr Charamba.

“Lest it be forgotten that Zimbabwe is world-famed producer of tobacco, and for its Head of State to be seen to be playing goodwill ambassador in respect of an agency which has a well-defined stance on tobacco growing and tobacco selling, that would have been a contradiction. And, in any case, that would have injured Zimbabwe’s national interest. In other words, he was not going to oblige the invitation had it come his way anyway. His views in respect of Zimbabwe vis-a-vis the campaign which is WHO-led are well known.

“He does not believe that Zimbabwe, whose leading foreign currency earner (is tobacco), must stop from growing it for as long as; one, there are people who avidly smoke it and demand it; two, for as long as there are more sinful liquids that the rest of the world manufacture and sell to the world – liquids like whisky, the various sheds of beers which in any event account for more deaths than just smoking.”

Mr Charamba said the WHO episode ignited debate on the need to reform the UN so that it fairly represented the interest of all nations, either big or small, around the world. “What this latest furore, which is needless, has done is to bring, in very sharp relief, the nature of relationship that subsists between the UN as a world body and its agencies on the one hand and the Western world on the other,” he said.

“Let it not be forgotten that in the early 80s, in the context of the New World Economic Order, as well as its economic variant, New World Information and Communication Order, debate on one of the agencies of the UN – namely UNESCO – fell foul to a comparable arbitrariness on the part of Western powers, because UNESCO sought to carry the word of the global underdog. And I notice that UNESCO is again in the news this time around in respect of its decision to admit the Palestinian authority as a full member, which decision appears not welcome to certain big powers in the Western hemisphere.”

Mr Charamba said there was need to interrogate the skewed power relations between institutions that were supposed to represent the world and powerful Western countries. “As a matter of principle, Zimbabwe and its Head of State do have the right, as any other human being and any other member country of UN, in promoting and furthering the agenda of UN and its agencies,” he said.

“To try and turn resentment of certain policies that a country or a leader has in the interest of his people, to turn that into an operating ethic, suggests the UN is not a world body and that instead is a façade of arbitrary policies of stronger powers – and is unacceptable to Zimbabwe, as it is indeed to many other progressive countries. That is precisely why Zimbabwe has been in the forefront of espousing the African position, the Ezulwini Consensus, calling for the restructuring of the UN Security Council; in fact, for a new structure which is subordinated or accounts to the General Assembly, which is much more representative.

“So, what this does is bring a new tenure to the debate about the role of UN and agencies in world affairs, instead of throwing any light on the character of the President.” WHO, said Mr Charamba, which seems to have no say in the running of the inter-governmental organisation, had bowed to pressure from Western-backed organisations masquerading as NGOs.

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  • tsotso

    You had gone under water since the interface rally bashing incident. We really missed your intellectual arguments. But I felt sorry for you when you stood before the crowd apa hembe iri panze

    • Mungandidii

      I thought we celebrated the appointment

  • Chamunorwa

    Quite fascinating response. Why was the Foreign Minister suggesting that the UN system ought to be reformed? Only a few days ago we had a headline suggesting that the appointment was a “new feather” in our leader’s cap…

    • SlackJawedYokel

      Lol! They were all celebrating a non- event for the past few days. In any case if WHO is in contrast to the tobacco interests of Zim, then why did RGM went to attend that WHO conference in the first place. Not to even mention that he was the only head of state there?
      Charamba also need to start realizing that the UN was formed by certain countries and the rest were invited to join in. Like the noise they made the last time, that they will pull out of it, if they are not happy, then why not just pull out as you threaten. Do not overestimate your worth and your influence. You are just a poverty stricken clueless dictatorship…

  • Tarubva

    This is now a govt of crackpots! George Charamba, may you possibly explain, why was Walter Mzembi squealing yesterday about the rescinded decision if there was no decision in the first place? @Herald Live Editor, why didn’t you ask such an obvious question?

    • xyz

      Tichikura kana mukomana akanyenga orambwa nemusikana wainzwa ava kuti ndanga ndisingakudi futi. This is what is happening here!

  • Sonono

    You cant spin this one, guys. You are actually making it worse.

  • Moe_Scyslack2

    Charamba haunyare? This is embarrassing. Stop please. You are making it worse. This is pathetic. I shake my head in shame. What about the feathers in the cap? Why did you bother report that if he hadn’t been formally asked? We are not fools.

    • Kuta Kinte

      You have always shaken your head on any wind current. Keep on shaking it to find your political co-ordinates.

  • The Preacher

    At times is better to keep quite than talk shit and shoot yourself in the foot!! State media, Herald in a particular, is a bunch of stooges- one headline reads “another feather in the President’s hat” and the next “Gvt clears air on WHO furore”. A disgrace unto yourselves. And whats sick! The very Charamba who now purports to clear the air is the one who heads this spineless press which celebrated this appointment over the weekend as if it were going to change the fate of those old women sleeping nights at POSB corner Mandela and Takawira or those ‘graduates’ selling underpants anywhere they find a space to squat.

    • yowe

      Very true words Preacher fambai naro shoko go deeper hahahaha Yowe!!!

    • Kuta Kinte

      Why then do you enjoy every copy of the Herald. You keep on harping that this water is very salty while at the same time you drink litres and litres every hour.

  • Shoko

    The stupidity has gone up a notch on the stupidity meter! Just two days ago it was ‘a feather in the president’s cap’ the next day it becomes a knife in the back that the president saw coming and ducked! All this with the assumption that we the dumb populace have already forgotten how the previous day you were all singing about the ‘achievement’. You even provided us with a photo of persons who had the ‘goodwill’ ambassadorship confered on them. Charamba has become the Tariq Aziz of Zimbabwe!!!

  • yowe

    Haiwawo George dai Doctor Amai vakakudzokorodza futi unosvota murume iwe nxaaa

  • mac

    Riigghhhhhhtttt!!!! I think any educated person wouldn’t believe your explanation. Just last week you were saying a new feather what not what not..

  • Gudo

    Takunda Maodza in Montevideo, URUGUAY—
    President Mugabe will spearhead the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa after he accepted a request by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be its goodwill ambassador on the continent. The President is here for the WHO global conference on NCDs……***no comment***

  • Zarura Zimbabgwe
  • SlackJawedYokel

    kkk. Informally appointed, but formally fired? Lol!

  • SR-71 Blackbird

    Let us reform our democratic systems before we address the UN, Mr Iwe George.

  • Wasu Pa Internet

    the only air being cleared is from George’s bum!

    zvinoita kusanyara nhai wedu? munhu angabve ashaye nyadzi kudero kunga kutu?!

  • Muonesi Mukuru

    Spewing a plethora of kindergarten lies! These guys think we are fools. You can not fool us anymore enough is enough!

  • Kuta Kinte

    And you are comical Tshombe.

  • Kuta Kinte

    According to you where does government start and end?


    some of us are laughing hard at all this comedy that takes place in Zimbabwe daily.

  • dick mboko

    Mr Charamba – I always thought you were educated. You seem to have only learnt to read and write. Who funds WHO? Has Zimbabwe ever paid a penny to this agency? No! So learn to put money where your mouth is. period. No bond notes pliz because WHO does not use bond notes