President Robert Mugabe has reacted to the withdrawal of the role of World Health Organisation goodwill envoy.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, named Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador last Wednesday at a conference in Uruguay.
But the appointment was rescinded on Sunday following a backlash from Western donors, rights groups and opposition parties.
On Friday, the state-owned Herald celebrated the appointment as a ‘New feather in President’s cap’, adding that Mugabe, 93, had accepted the role.
On Tuesday, Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, told the same newspaper: “Had anything been put to the President, (he) would have found such a request to be an awkward one”.
“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.
“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.”
Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s single largest foreign currency earner, bringing in an average $800 million annually in the last four years.