Zim stands chance for C’wealth re-entry
Gibson Nyikadzino Herald Correspondent
ZIMBABWE, through its engagement and re-engagement policy under President Mnangagwa, has an opportunity to be re-admitted into the Commonwealth of Nations nearly two decades after withdrawing its membership, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association president, Mr Brian Speers, has said.
In 2003, Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth after former imperial power Britain internationalised a bilateral dispute around Zimbabwe’s land redistribution, a dispute which London wanted resolved as dictated by its terms.
A majority of the Commonwealth offered suspension but Zimbabwe wanted all in or all out.
But in 2018, Zimbabwe signalled its intention to seek readmittance into the 54-member bloc after President Mnangagwa said he was keen to engage and re-engage all nations of the world under the mantra, “Friend to all, Enemy to none”.
Speaking on how Zimbabwe’s application stood ahead of the week-long Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting starting today in Rwanda, Mr Speers said his “experience in Zimbabwe is positive” and that he had “been impressed”.
While the issue around Zimbabwe’s readmission into the Commonwealth “is a political matter”, he stressed, stability in Zimbabwe attracts investments.
“My experience in Zimbabwe is positive and of course the re-admission of Zimbabwe into the Commonwealth is a political matter and there are certain criteria around her consideration.
“I must say I have been impressed by the awareness of both the civic society organisation and the legal community of the importance of some clearly fundamental rule of law issues and it is well known that in a democracy where the rule of law is present, that creates stability as it creates the opportunity for free, fair and peaceful elections,” said Mr Speers.
Stability in Zimbabwe created an opportunity for respecting differences, hence his emphasis on issues around the rule of law.
“The rule of law creates the opportunity for respecting differences and moreover, it attracts investments and it enables the conversation with the wider international community to take place.
“So I have been emphasising the rule of law. I have been talking about the principles on the pillars of Government, separating the Executive from the Judiciary and the independence of the legal profession,” Mr Speers added.
In November 2017 at the inauguration of President Mnangagwa, then British Prime Minister Ms Theresa May sent her envoy, Minister for Africa Mr Rory Stewart, who delivered a message that “Britain wants to be a genuine partner for Zimbabweans as they forge a new future”.
Six months later on the sidelines of the CHOGM meeting in London, Zimbabwe’s late Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Dr Sibusiso Moyo, met his then British counterpart Boris Johnson, who said his country “strongly supports Zimbabwe’s re-entry to the Commonwealth”.
Mr Johnson is now UK Prime Minister.
“Zimbabwe has made impressive progress. That is why Britain, the Commonwealth and the wider international community will do everything it can in supporting Zimbabwe on its path of reform. The UK stands ready in friendship to support a Zimbabwe that fully embraces the rule of law, human rights and economic reform,” said Mr Johnson in April 2018.
In the Second Republic, Zimbabwe has made significant strides in setting up the platform for practical and effective multiparty democracy, democratisation of media space through the licensing of community radio stations and also providing an enabling environment for foreign investment.