Mnangagwa mulls Commonwealth return

AS President Emmerson Mnangagwa continues to try and undo his predecessor Robert Mugabe’s political mess, it has emerged the new Zimbabwean leader is mulling a return to the Commonwealth club of former British colonies.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

An angry Mugabe unilaterally pulled Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth in 2003 after a decision to suspend his administration over accusations of human rights abuses centred around alleged electoral malpractices, violence and the land reform programme.

Mnangagwa took power following a military intervention last month, which forced Mugabe to resign after 37 years in power.

Foreign Affairs secretary Joey Bimha yesterday said a return could be on the cards “in the near future”.

“It is not a government priority at the moment, but it’s a possibility in the near future,” Bimha told NewsDay in an interview.

In his address to the Zanu PF extraordinary congress two weeks ago, Mnangagwa admitted Zimbabwe needed to worm its way back into the family of nations despite having been part of Mugabe’s government that was for nearly two decades ostracised from the international community.

“We realise that isolation is not splendid or viable, as there is more to gain through solidarity, mutually beneficial partnerships which, however, recognise our unique national interests,” Mnangagwa told party leaders amid applause.

He said his government would adopt a more pragmatic approach to international relations instead of the narrow and parochial “Look East” policy that had become the hallmark of Mugabe’s belligerent regime.

“Government will, thus, pursue a robust re-engagement process to fully affirm our belonging to the family of nations,” Mnangagwa said.

“The re-engagement process will seek to create new relations whilst holding steadfast to those countries that stood by us during our darkest years. In this regard, measures will be put in place to attract foreign investment and ensure that Zimbabwe is a place where capital feels safe.”

As a sign of his intentions to undo Mugabe’s decades-long damage, Mnangagwa has returned a few farms expropriated from white farmers and stopped fresh invasions.

The international community has taken a cautious approach to Mnangagwa’s administration with Britain in particular, indicating a willingness to “give him a chance”.

However, demands for a return to democracy and the rule of law remain, with Mnangagwa seemingly skirting these issues in all his pronouncements thus far except for declaring he wants to run a free and fair election next year.

British Foreign secretary Boris Johnson recently told the United Kingdom Parliament that the door remains open for Zimbabwe’s return as long as conditions around democracy and the respect of human rights are met.

“. . . I must caution him that several steps need to be done through before that can happen. There must be free and fair elections next year, it then falls to Zimbabwe to apply to the Commonwealth secretariat and then to make clear to the Commonwealth and to the world that Zimbabwe fulfils the criteria on human rights, on rule of law, on democracy, that are necessary for Commonwealth membership,” Johnson said.

Sports minister Kazembe Kazembe has indicated Zimbabwe could also return to the Commonwealth Games “soon”.

Zimbabweans benefited from scholarships during the country’s long stay as a member of the club of former British colonies until Mugabe pulled the plug.

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5 Comments

  1. Lots of ‘return to’ happenings all hinge on the return to the rule of law, fair and free elections, repeal of POSA, AIPPA, BAZ, explaining where Itai Dzamara ended up and who was responsible for his death, realignment of new laws into the Constitution and a stop to the ongoing corrupt practices happening in Zim at the moment on a grand and daily basis. So, it will take a while (maybe 3 years) before we are competing at the Commonwealth Games.

  2. Zimbabwe as a nation born out a revolutionary struggle for democracy and right to self determination does not need tutoring on democracy.
    The UK history in Norther Ireland shows they are not saints on human rights in what they euphemistically call the “troubles in Northern Island” In Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe spoke of “a time of madness” when the Government deployed the Fifth Brigade in parts of Matebeleland to fight armed dissidents.
    The US Government have Guantanamo Bay where human rights have been suspended and detention without trial
    in de facto and human rights are in limbo.
    In Libya a state was destroyed in the name of oil to change a regime by the West.
    Thank God the UN and AU have accepted that in Zimbabwe – ” voice of the people is the voice of God”
    The unique change we have had in the recent past is being followed by correction of past errors on in key on key areas to restore our economy and rule of law:
    * Bringing corruption to book in courts
    * Rule of law in land reform
    *Common sense on investment lost in pursuit of ideginisation for a wealthy few
    * Moving from isolationist policy to a commonwealth of nations beyond the umbrella body under the Queen of England
    * Transparency
    * Prioritization of citizen welfare through measures to attract capital and revive the economy
    * Recognizing that reviving Agriculture will restore the Economy
    * The Voice of the People is the voice of God is a philosophy on the supremacy of the Zimbabwe nationals deciding where we take Zimbabwe- not other nations East or West. Our sovereignty based on the will of the people is sacrosanct.
    Long Live Zimbabwe and the Voice of Its People, It cannot be silenced- ever!

  3. significant watemwa

    From freedom and self determination to constricted club membership. There is some good in both, but even better much good in the former if you are honest to yourselves. Lets hope he uses the right and honest weights in his measurement

    1. GET RID OF MUGABE CONSTITUTION

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