Ramaphosa said this in light of US President Donald Trump’s attacks on the WHO leadership, blaming the UN agency for his own failure to take heed of the dangers the disease posed to Americans even when the Chinese were dying in thousands.
Trump, now under attack in his country for mishandling the pandemic, had for two months publicly denied that the coronavirus was a threat to the US that needed his undivided attention as he told the press “everything was under his control”.
In fact, in the early days of the disease, Trump and his son Donald Junior said the coronavirus was a “hoax made up by Democrats” and the liberal press of his country in order to undermine his presidency.
When the WHO finally declared that the virus was “now a pandemic” that needed to be taken more seriously, Trump responded: “I knew it all along” after he had in fact told a TV interviewer weeks earlier that “it’s not a pandemic.”
On Tuesday, however, the man who denied the obvious dangers of the coronavirus when the Chinese were busy building extra hospitals to admit patients was now blaming the WHO for not informing him that the COVID-19 was a pandemic.
Noting these contradictions, the AU chair defended the WHO for its tireless efforts in briefing the world with his timely messages of “test, test, test; isolate, and treat” in order to stop the pandemic.
Ramaphosa said: “In appreciation of these efforts, the African Union extends its unwavering support to the WHO and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian national.
“The AU calls upon the international community to join hands to support the efforts of the DG and the entire WHO family as they lead global efforts to fight this pandemic.”
“If there was a time for global unity, solidarity and cooperation, this is that time. Working together, we will be able to overcome this challenge,” the AU chair said.