African press review 23 October 2017

Text by: William Niba
4 min

The WHO cancel's Mugabe's appointment as goodwill envoy after international uproar. Back in Zimbabwe, the press wonders why the 93-year old puts himself under such unnecessary strain.


We begin in Kenya where the papers relay an appeal by Pope Francis to the country's people to face the current difficulties in a climate of constructive dialogue and for the common good”.

The Pope, who was addressing pilgrims and tourists gathered at Saint Peter's Square in Rome for his traditional Angelus prayer, reportedly say he was paying close attention to the events in Kenya, which he visited in 2015.

The Standard says that Francis spoke on the same Sunday, when hundreds of faithful thronged places of worship to pray for a peaceful presidential election slated for Thursday October 26.

Daily Nation recalls that the crisis in Kenya reached stalemate after the country’s Supreme Court annulled the results of the August 8 presidential election, after which the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner, citing “irregularities” and “illegalities” in the process.

According to the publication, opposition leader Raila Odinga – Kenyatta’s principal challenger – has since pulled out of the race and called for mass protests on the day of the scheduled re-run to protest his perceived failure by the country's elections commission to address the irregularities that led to the annulment of the polls.

Meanwhile, several African newspapers take up the controversial decision by the World Health Organization to reverse the appointment of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as goodwill ambassador, following widespread uproar.

The head of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement issued on Sunday that he had decided to rescind the appointment, "in the best interests of the Organization."

South Africa's Times says Tedros announced Mugabe’s appointment during a speech in Uruguay, last week in which he described Zimbabwe as "a country which places universal health coverage at the center of its policies".

But as the paper observes, key WHO donors like Britain, Canada and the United States swiftly denounced the appointment, saying that Zimbabwe's healthcare system has collapsed under Mugabe’s 37 years of authoritarian rule.

Times also relays charges by critics that the frequent travels abroad for medical care by the 93-year-old Mugabe were ample proof that Zimbabwe’s health care system has been so severely decimated.

According to the newspaper Richard Horton, the editor of the leading medical journal The Lancet wrote to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian Health Minister, reminding him that  "WHO DG stands for Director-General, not Dictator-General, urging him to retract his decision.

The Times reports that Tedros' election as the first African leader of WHO was billed as a key moment for the continent, where much of organization’s work is based. But as it notes, his decision to honour one of Africa's most controversial leaders has raised questions about his leadership just four months into his tenure.

Back in Zimbabwe, the Standard says that the "frail" President Robert Mugabe, keeps putting himself under unnecessary strain. It reports that he has travelled over 300 hours, covering almost 180 000km and gobbling millions of taxpayers’ money this year.

According to the publication, the president, who has made headlines for either being "caught on world cameras napping or walking off balance", has a penchant for spending more time in the air than at his Munhumutapa offices attending to the critical governance and economic problems besetting his country.

The Standard says that Mugabe was surrounded by 70 people including caretakers and health personnel like nurses and doctors when he recently travelled to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

According to the newspaper, two days after he staggered to the podium to deliver his speech, social media shared a video of him crab-walking with the help of aides.

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