Cde Robert Mugabe: WHO and what is WHO?

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Comment & Analysis - With Richard Run­yararo Ma­homva

A WEEK ago our main­stream me­dia widely dis­sem­i­nated Pres­i­dent Robert Mugabe’s ap­point­ment as the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion — WHO Africa’s Good­will Am­bas­sador.

This ap­point­ment is said to have been con­ferred dur­ing course of the WHO Global Con­fer­ence on Non-Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases, which was held in Uruguay. The me­dia fram­ing of this mat­ter con­veyed the usual an­tithe­sis of our con­test­ing po­lit­i­cal bi­na­ries. From the out­set, it was in­evitable that the so-called ap­point­ment of His Ex­cel­lency as WHO’s Good­will Am­bas­sador for Africa would be cel­e­brated and de­monised at home. How­ever, what emerged was that this mis­named ap­point­ment of the African na­tion­al­ist icon tem­pered with the egos of the self-pro­claimed global pre­fects of moder­nity, democ­racy, hu­man rights and glob­al­i­sa­tion. This fol­lowed WHO Di­rec­tor­Gen­eral Dr Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus’ pro­nounce­ment of his hon­our to Pres­i­dent Mugabe as a sym­bol of re­demp­tive African con­science and ar­dent mas­ter­mind of hu­man fac­tor de­vel­op­ment:

“We are also hon­oured to­day to be joined by His Ex­cel­lency Pres­i­dent Mugabe of Zim­babwe, a coun­try that has placed uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age and health pro­mo­tion at the cen­tre of its poli­cies to pro­vide health for all, and also the in­no­va­tive fi­nanc­ing for NCDs that we heard from Pres­i­dent Mugabe”.

In what may be re­garded as a re­tort to Dr Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus, Pres­i­dent Mugabe pointed out the re­mark­able strides that have been made by Zim­babwe to en­sure that com­bat­ive mea­sures are put in place to cur­tail the ef­fects of Non-Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases, “Ef­forts are also un­der way to es­tab­lish an in­ter-Min­is­te­rial Task Force on Non-Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases through the Min­istry of Health and Child Care”. The Pres­i­dent went fur­ther to state that:

“This ini­tia­tive comes from our aware­ness that non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases need a multi-sec­toral re­sponse, and comes on the back of our highly ac­claimed Aids Levy. We have es­tab­lished Health Levy Fund, an in­no­va­tive fi­nanc­ing mech­a­nism to raise re­sources for the pro­cure­ment of medicines, sup­plies and equip­ment for the man­age­ment of non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, among other con­di­tions. This fund is de­rived from a five per­cent sur­charge of mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions us­age. In the case of non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, Zim­babwe has adopted a Na­tional Health Strat­egy span­ning from 2016-2020, which we have dubbed ‘Eq­uity and Qual­ity in Health: Leav­ing No One Be­hind.” Cde Mugabe: Un­mask­ing the racial

hi­er­ar­chies of the world or­der There­fore, it is clear that with or with­out an en­dorse­ment from the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion, Zim­babwe has es­tab­lished frame­works aimed at fight­ing Non­Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases. How­ever, the in­flated at­ten­tion, which this mat­ter re­ceived, is a re­flec­tion of the ex­tent to which Cde Mugabe con­tin­ues to be a sym­bol of stub­born ide­o­log­i­cal con­sis­tence and how he is a cen­tre of global focus in mul­ti­lat­eral pol­icy-mak­ing spa­ces. His pres­ence in these global pol­icy di­a­logues is al­ways viewed from a point of an­tag­o­nism. A few months back, when he spoke at the Africa Fo­rum Con­fer­ence in South Africa, his dis­missal of the anti-nar­ra­tive of Zim­babwe as a frag­ile state be­came a cen­tre of global di­a­logue. This re­flects the ex­tent to which Pres­i­dent Mugabe has po­si­tioned Zim­babwe at the fore of chal­leng­ing the au­ton­omy of those who per­ceive them­selves as war­dens of world or­der.

The an­tag­o­nis­tic re­ac­tion to the an­nounce­ment of Pres­i­dent Mugabe as WHO’s African Good­will Am­bas­sador came from the arch-op­po­nents of Zim­babwe and the ide­o­log­i­cal personhood of Cde Robert Mugabe as they threat­ened to cut their fund­ing from WHO. This shows that this mat­ter rep­re­sents the big­ger ne­olib­eral contestation of the lead­er­ship le­git­i­macy of Cde Robert Mugabe. More­over, this ex­presses the per­ma­nence of racial an­i­mos­ity in global pol­icy plan­ning. This is be­cause Pres­i­dent Mugabe is a sym­bol of the fight for Black supremacy in the face of sub­tle ex­er­tions of white supremacy con­cealed as glob­al­i­sa­tion, world peace, democ­racy and lib­er­al­ism.

Had this ap­point­ment been con­firmed, as Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Mr Ge­orge Charamba later re­vealed no of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion was made on the said ap­point­ment; it can be con­cluded that the out­rage, which en­sued the ap­point­ment “an­nounce­ment” of Robert Mugabe, was meant to pre­vent African cap­ture of the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO). This is be­cause Dr Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus is WHO’s first Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral. More­over, his re­spect to one per­ceived as a neo-lib­eral dis­si­dent (in the form the Pan-African Cde Mugabe) would be tan­ta­mount to an ab­so­lute African cap­ture of the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion. This in­ci­dent im­mensely ex­presses the ex­tent to which African ideas have no equal foot­ing with West­ern value sys­tems at mul­ti­lat­eral stand­points. The in­ter­na­tional sys­tem as a the­atre of

re­al­ism This per­spec­tive evokes the need to re­visit Hans Mor­gan­thou (1978)’s anal­y­sis on prin­ci­ples of re­al­ism in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions:

“For re­al­ism, the­ory con­sists in as­cer­tain­ing facts and giv­ing them mean­ing through rea­son. It as­sumes that the char­ac­ter of a for­eign pol­icy can be as­cer­tained only through the ex­am­i­na­tion of the po­lit­i­cal acts per­formed and of the fore­see­able con­se­quences of these acts. Thus, we can find out what states­men have ac­tu­ally done, and from the fore­see­able con­se­quences of their acts we can sur­mise what their ob­jec­tives might have been. Yet ex­am­i­na­tion of the facts is not enough.”

In Mor­gansthou’s view, a critic of an in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal-econ­omy mat­ter must be ap­pre­ci­ated from the ide­o­log­i­cal lens of the in­di­vid­ual state ac­tors in con­cern. As such, the ad­mi­ra­tion of Cde Robert Mugabe by WHO’s Di­rec­tor Gen­eral had se­vere in­ter­na­tional diplo­macy im­pli­ca­tions. There­fore, one needs to ap­pre­ci­ate that while this could seem as if it was a mere act of down­play­ing Cde Robert Mugabe, it was in fact a fight against the polemic African dis­sent from Euro­cen­tric dom­i­nance at mul­ti­lat­eral level. How­ever, what lacked in most analy­ses pro­duced by our arm­chair and cy­ber crit­ics of Cde Robert Mugabe was sci­en­tific con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion of the pol­i­tics of the in­ter­na­tional space in­ter­pre­ta­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Mor­gansthou (1978) there was no ac­cu­rate “mean­ing to the fac­tual raw ma­te­rial of for­eign pol­icy” of the par­ties in­volved. How­ever, the same scholar pre­scribes the need for hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal praxis of in­ter­pret­ing mat­ters of po­lit­i­cal diplo­macy and al­ter­ca­tions within the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem:

. . . we must ap­proach po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity with a kind of ra­tio­nal out­line, a map that sug­gests to us the pos­si­ble mean­ings of for­eign pol­icy. In other words, we put our­selves in the po­si­tion of a states­man who must meet a cer­tain prob­lem of for­eign pol­icy un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances, and we ask our­selves, what the ra­tio­nal al­ter­na­tives are from which a states­man may choose who must meet this prob­lem un­der these cir­cum­stances (pre­sum­ing al­ways that he acts in a ra­tio­nal man­ner), and which of these ra­tio­nal al­ter­na­tives this par­tic­u­lar states­man, act­ing un­der these cir­cum­stances, is likely to choose. It is the test­ing of this ra­tio­nal hy­poth­e­sis against the facts and their con­se­quences that gives the­o­ret­i­cal mean­ing to the facts of in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics (ibid).

Guided by this per­spec­tive, the an­a­lyst is then com­pelled to put them­selves in Pres­i­dent Robert Mugabe’s po­si­tion — a po­si­tion of an African de­colo­nial­ist and de­fender of Zim­bab­wean in­ter­ests in the face of global hege­mony; against a back­drop of Zim­babwe’s Land Re­form Pro­gramme and the con­se­quences of ac­cept­ing the WHO African Good­will Am­bas­sador’s post by His Ex­cel­lency, Pres­i­dent Robert Mugabe.

After all the as­sorted at­ti­tudes, which this mat­ter pro­duced, there was need for a line to be drawn be­tween truth and fal­lacy. As such, the Press Sec­re­tary in the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent of Zim­babwe and Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion of Zim­babwe gave the needed clar­ity on this mat­ter and fur­ther in­di­cated that there was no such ap­point­ment con­ferred to Pres­i­dent Mugabe:

“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.” More­over, Cde Charamba ar­gues that: “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 non­ap­point­ment is in fact a non-event, but a non­event which re­flects a neg­a­tive pre­dis­po­si­tion to­wards Zim­babwe.”

Cde Charamba fur­ther in­di­cated that the Pres­i­dent was never go­ing to ac­cept a post with a rip­ple ef­fect of com­pro­mis­ing Zim­babwe’s gains through the agrar­ian re­form. This is be­cause we are famed as the lead­ing pro­ducer of to­bacco and yet WHO has made fran­tic ef­forts to ban the use of 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. Lest it be for­got­ten that Zim­babwe is world­famed 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.”

Hav­ing made these ref­er­ences and at­tempt­ing to give bal­anced re­flec­tions on the mat­ter at hand, it re­mains crit­i­cal to note that the WHO African Good­will Am­bas­sador saga presents us with a bla­tant ex­pres­sion of:

How African­ist Pres­i­dent Robert Mugabe and con­sol­ida­tor of Zim­bab­wean sovereignty is an an­tag­o­nist to the “big­brother” syn­drome of some West­ern coun­tries.

How ad­mi­ra­tion of Pres­i­dent Mugabe can be a cause of un­pop­u­lar­ity for any­one at the helm of in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions sus­tained by West­ern neo-lib­eral po­lit­i­cal econ­omy grav­i­tas.

How the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem is a site of racial hi­er­ar­chies of power — where the na­tional in­ter­ests of other stake­hold­ers is prej­u­diced.

How our so-called crit­ics fail, bla­tantly, to dis­tin­guish be­tween the per­son of Pres­i­dent Robert Mugabe and the Pres­i­dent of Zim­babwe, and how the WHO con­fu­sion den­i­grate the state of Zim­babwe, hence lead­ing to a slip­pery slope, as at­tested by Te­dious Ncube in his lat­est opinion ar­ti­cle, A Contestation of WHO’s Am­bas­sado­rial Ap­point­ment Hullabaloo.

There­fore, when our lead­ers and the Africa val­ues they stand for are den­i­grated should we con­tinue to be bona-fide to the dic­tates of the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem? I AM ap­peal­ing to all mem­bers of our so­ci­ety to re­spect the teach­ers for the good job they are do­ing in our coun­try.

Gone are the days when teach­ers were seen as very im­por­tant peo­ple in Zim­babwe, both in the ru­ral towns and even in ru­ral ar­eas.

In the ru­ral ar­eas, teach­ers were very pop­u­lar and al­most ev­ery­one would want to be a friend of a teacher or mis­tress but it has all gone, I re­ally don’t know what has changed now but if noth­ing is done then it means we are go­ing to have prob­lems as a coun­try. With­out teach­ers there is no fu­ture in this coun­try so I feel the Gov­ern­ment and pri­vate em­ploy­ers must play their part by im­prov­ing the salaries for these teach­ers.

I am re­ally dis­ap­pointed to see that teach­ers are earn­ing salaries which are very low and some gen­eral work­ers in the pri­vate sec­tor are get­ting bet­ter salaries than even head­mas­ters of top schools and col­leges in Zim­babwe. I re­ally won­der why it is a re­quire­ment for teach­ers to have some diplo­mas and de­grees be­cause their salaries don’t match with these de­grees.

Teach­ers are al­ways seen walk­ing long dis­tances every­day go­ing to their schools and back home since they can­not af­ford to board kom­bis and buses. These hard work­ing teach­ers can­not af­ford to raise trans­port money as well as buy­ing food for their fam­i­lies. To­day’s teach­ers can­not be com­pared with coun­ter­parts from way back be­cause al­most all school head­mas­ters and se­nior teach­ers had cars. All lat­est cars and clothes were first seen at teach­ers’ homes but its his­tory now.

We have to do some­thing as a na­tion to re­tain our teach­ers most of whom had to cross the bor­ders to look for greener pas­tures in re­gional coun­tries while a big num­ber had to go to over­seas coun­tries such as Bri­tain and Ger­many to take up man­ual jobs such as sweep­ing and look­ing after the el­derly peo­ple at the old peo­ples homes. We must not for­get that we are what we are to­day as a re­sult of teach­ers. I am a writer and some­one is a doc­tor, nurse etc. as a re­sult of these teach­ers they are not re­spected in so­ci­ety due to the pal­try and em­bar­rass­ing salaries they are earn­ing. I hope to see a change in the fu­ture. Ed­dious Ma­sundire Shumba, Mawani Pri­mary School, Mberengwa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.