Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has news for the director of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland: He didn’t want the job that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave to him and then quickly took away. Tedros appointed Mugabe on 18 October as a WHO goodwill ambassador for noncommunicable diseases in Africa and then, following an uproar from the medical community and human rights groups, rescinded the posting 4 days later. The Herald, Zimbabwe’s leading newspaper, reported today that Mugabe’s spokesperson says the 93-year-old president, who has ruled since 1980, never accepted the job and wouldn’t have taken it. According to the spokesperson, “All this hullabaloo over a nonappointment is in fact a nonevent.” He went on to say that it would have “been a contradiction” for Mugabe to accept the post because tobacco is Zimbabwe’s main cash crop and WHO has “a well-defined stance” against tobacco. He said Zimbabwe, which many critics of Mugabe complain was plunged into an economic crisis because of his policies, will continue to sell tobacco as long as people demand it and the world keeps manufacturing “more sinful liquids” like whiskey and beer.
Read our COVID-19 research and news.