Zimbabwe: Zim Renews Commonwealth Interest

Left: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Top-right: Flag of Zimbabwe. Bottom-right: Flag of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Government has written a letter to Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland expressing its interest in principle to rejoin the Commonwealth and that it will do so at the appropriate time.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha yesterday confirmed the letter by President Mnangagwa to Secretary Scotland.

Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003 at the height of tension between Harare and London over the land issue.

Former president Mr Robert Mugabe announced Zimbabwe's withdrawal from the group following the Commonwealth summit in Nigeria that suspended the country indefinitely.

In an interview yesterday, Ambassador Bimha said: "What the President submitted was an expression of interest that we will apply at the appropriate time," he said.

"The President wants to do the necessary consultations. It was not an application."

The Commonwealth yesterday posted a statement on its website confirming communication with Zimbabwe's authorities with regards to Harare's readmission process.

The statement said the Commonwealth Secretary-General was delighted to receive the letter from President Mnangagwa.

"I whole-heartedly echo the sentiments of Heads of Government who have said twice, in 2009 and subsequently in 2011, that they very much look forward to Zimbabwe's return when the conditions are right.

"Zimbabwe's eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history," said Secretary-General Scotland.

If readmitted, Zimbabwe stands to benefit multi-laterally and bilaterally from other member states.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has invited the Commonwealth to come and observe its general elections slated for July.

In response to that, the Commonwealth said it was now mobilising a team of observers to do so which would also form part of the Secretary-General's informal assessment.

"I urge the government, opposition parties, the election management body, civil society and all stakeholders, to play their part in ensuring a credible, peaceful and inclusive process that restores citizens' confidence, trust and hope in the development and democratic trajectory of their country," stated Secretary-General Scotland in the statement.

The membership process requires an informal assessment to be undertaken by representatives of the Secretary-General, followed by consultations with other Commonwealth countries.

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