WE reported yesterday that Britain is pushing for Zimbabwe’s readmission to the Commonwealth.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been pushing for Zimbabwe’s readmission to the club of nations under his “friends to all and enemies to none” mantra.
Zimbabwe’s relations with its former coloniser have been frosty for more than two decades after the government’s land reform programme which it said was implemented to redress historical imbalances.
Zimbabwe pulled out of the bloc in 2003 after it felt that the Commonwealth was too harsh on the country following the extension of a suspension which had lapsed.
This infuriated the ruling Zanu PF party with the late President Robert Mugabe telling the Commonwealth to go.
“If the choice was made, one, for us to lose our sovereignty and become a member of the Commonwealth or, remain with our sovereignty and lose the membership of the Commonwealth. I would say, let the Commonwealth go,” Mugabe told supporters at the party’s annual conference in Masvingo.
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Neutrals believe Zimbabwe should be readmitted to the bloc especially after Gabon and Togo became the 55th and 56th members of the bloc, respectively last year. The two new members have excess baggage.
Until recently, Gabon was being ruled by the Bongo dynasty since 1967. The same applies to Togo where power was transferred to son Faure Gnassingbé following the death of strongman Gnassingbé Eyadéma in 2005. The Eyadema family has ruled Togo since 1967.
Even with the unconstitutional removal of President Ali Bongo, Commonwealth ministers gave the new leaders two years to hold credible elections.
If Gabon fails to adhere to the rules, it will be expelled from the bloc.
The other bloc’s members have skeletons in their closets, but they have not been suspended.
Zimbabwe needs to be in the Commonwealth. The bloc has a population of over 2,5 billion which is a huge market for the country’s goods and services.
Statistics show that one in three young people aged between 15 and 29 lives in Commonwealth countries. The bloc had a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$13,1 trillion in 2021. The GDP is estimated to reach US$19,5 trillion in 2027.
Zimbabwe’s readmission will be the first victory for President Mnangagwa’s administration since it announced a re-engagement plan six years ago.
While the West is fixated with governance and rule of law, African leaders have become assertive and have been lured by China’s governance-neutral approach.
Beijing has rolled out the red carpet for Africa leaders becoming an “all weather friend”. And for the first time, African leaders are seen as equal partners.
Russia is also knocking on their doors and has become a big player in west and central Africa.
Despite the fallout after the Russia-Ukraine war, 49 African countries sent delegations to St Petersburg for the second Russia-Africa summit. The July summit was attended by 17 African heads of States. A delegation of African leaders got the audience of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in their bid to end the Russia-Ukraine war.
The dynamics have changed unlike 20 years ago. Britain is seeking new partners after its exit from the European Union and the current thawing of frosty relations between London and Harare dovetails into the grand plan.
Harare must shed its bad boy tag to become a member of a community of nations.