, 19 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
The @WHO has rescinded its decision to appoint #Mugabe as Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs: inevitable after -ve PR bbc.co.uk/news/world-afr…
I've been asked what I think of #MugabeAtWHO a few times & despite writing my PhD on health politics in #Zimbabwe I'm not sure what to say
It was obviously a political choice on the part of @DrTedros & a nod to a particular kind of pan-Africanist sentiment
No surprises that this was a PR disaster! But one question I have is: how & why are different commentators justifying their outrage?
Make no mistake: #Zimbabwe's health system, once the best in Africa, collapsed under #Mugabe's leadership esp during the 2000s
HIV, cholera, malnutrition, maternal mortality & TB rates have all been devastating while life expectancy plummeted in this period
There have been critical shortages in staffing & essential medicines plus failures in communication, procurement & transport systems
Most notoriously in 2008, #Mugabe downplayed the true extent of a catastrophic cholera outbreak that infected tens of thousands
And let's not forget violence meted out against a multitude of Zimbabweans from the coercive apparatus of the state for partisan purposes
So yes, it is farcical to appoint him a 'goodwill' ambassador for health
At the same, I fear that much #Mugabe bashing comes from a visceral hatred of the man and not out of concern for the health of Zimbabweans
It is not secret that much coverage of Zim politics in the West is mired in racist tropes about a 'despotic' & 'tyrannical' African leader
This is too simplistic & belies a more complex political reality & fails to contextualise why #Mugabe's corrals pan-Africanist support
Moreover, @DrTedros was right to point out #Zimbabwe's commitment to health equity as of the 2013 constitution BUT...
...this was the work of committed activists in the country as well as dedicated civil servants in the #Zimbabwean government
After all, the country is not defined by just one man! So, let's acknowledge the efforts made by many to improve health conditions in Zim..
@ remember it's not a single story about one man but rather a complex story about a range of people negotiating difficult politics...
...in a valiant effort to improve health even in the midst of the most hostile political-economic conditions
The pageantry and moralisms around the 'goodwill' ambassadorship should not distract us from that!
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