C’Wealth backs Zim readmission Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Fredrick Shava, Commonwealth head of delegation assistant Secretary General Professor Luis Franceschi, members of the delegation and other government ministers follow proceedings during a meeting in Harare yesterday

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter

VISITING Commonwealth assistant Secretary General Professor Luis Franschesci has said the 56 member-state body stands with Zimbabwe in its attempts to re-join the club of nations.

He commended Zimbabwe for the manner it has sought to re-join the club saying there was nothing political in its application to return to the group.

Prof Franschesci, who is leading a four-member Commonwealth assessment team that has been in the country since Saturday to check on progress Zimbabwe has made in the political, economic and social spheres following its application for re-admission in 2018, said this in Harare yesterday during a meeting with a Government team led by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava.

Zimbabwe applied to rejoin the Commonwealth in 2019 as part of President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement drive, after it withdrew its membership 19 years ago.

“Zimbabwe has approached this matter of coming back to the family (Commonwealth) with wisdom and has not been guided by instincts or emotions and I would encourage everyone in Zimbabwe to approach this matter in the same spirit.

“It is not political coming, or if coming back is not that successful a failure of a political party, a political side, any side of the divide, but it’s something that is being pursued and we perceive this in the Commonwealth as what is best for the people of Zimbabwe.

“There is no perfect country in the world, not that we are aware of. There’s no perfect country in the Commonwealth, there’s no perfect nation, but there are countries that are resilient which are trying to do the right thing for their people. We have to realise in those 56 nations (Commonwealth members) and we are together with Zimbabwe, helping you to come back home,” Prof Franschesci said.

He added that they had come to the country “as colleagues, friends, not on the opposite side, but on the same side,” with Zimbabwe and to assist it to reach a positive conclusion that everyone would like to see.

“Zimbabwe is a great nation, amazing beauty, talented people, humble and cheerful and they have come knocking on the door of the Commonwealth and we do not take that lightly.

“It’s very important that everyone understands that the Commonwealth is not a club of former colonies, it’s a club of wonderful nations, some who were former colonies and others who are not, who are united in the search for a common ideal,” Prof Franschesci said. In his remarks, Ambassador Shava said since the last assessment Mission in July 2019, the Government has made significant strides in the implementation of the reform agenda, as well as in meeting the five expectations that are critical to the country’s re-admission into the Commonwealth.

“Let me emphasise however, that this reform Agenda was initiated by the Government to, first and foremost, improve the lives and livelihoods of the Zimbabwean citizens in line with our vision of achieving an upper-middle income society by 2030.

“Vision 2030 prioritises the reorientation of the country towards democratisation; respect for human and property rights; freedom of expression and association; the rule of law as well as addressing economic challenges.

“In that regard, under our National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), for the period 2021 to 2025, the Government is striving to build on the successes of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme to ensure macro-economic stability and growth,” Ambassador Shava said.

He added that Sadc, the African Union and the United Nations had endorsed the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) as a worthwhile and timely intervention in promoting peace, unity, social cohesion and dialogue.

Ambassador Shava said POLAD had played an active role in promoting economic, social and governance issues at national level while the Government had made tremendous strides in enhancing civil and political rights of its citizens.

“There has been tremendous progress in the alignment of laws to the Constitution. Suffice to note that statutes that relate to human rights are being given priority in this process.

“Regarding the amendment of the Electoral Act, consultations are being held and most of the recommendations from the Electoral Observation Mission have been incorporated,” he said.

Yesterday’s meeting was attended by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe and Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Kindness Paradza. The assessment team will also meet various stakeholders during its stay in the country.

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