ZIMBABWE shot down a proposal to return to the Commonwealth on Thursday after a senior official declared: “We don’t want to be part of the Commonwealth.”
President Robert Mugabe pulled his country out of the organisation -- a club of former British colonies -- in 2003 and has been a fierce critic of Britain ever since.
However, the new political coalition in Zimbabwe has helped pave the way for a possible early return.
Leaders of Commonwealth countries – including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown -- will gather for their biennial meeting in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday. Discussions will take place that are expected to set a timetable for Zimbabwe to be re-admitted at the next summit in two years time.
Officials say the re-admission will be linked to a series of political reforms being implemented by the Zimbabwe government.
But Didymus Mutasa, Zimbabwe’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and a senior figure in Mugabe’s Zanu PF party told New Zimbabwe.com: “We left the Commonwealth by choice. If we want to go back, it’s us who are supposed to tell them.
“Their offer is empty of any meaning, it has no meaning. We went out voluntarily, nothing has changed. We still don’t want to be part of the Commonwealth.”
Mutasa said they were unconcerned that Zimbabwe’s neighbours have remained part of the organisation, declaring: “It’s not a problem that our friends are members of the Commonwealth.
“We don’t want to be bothered by the Commonwealth. We won’t go back because we don’t want to be bothered.”
Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, agreed to join a unity government with Mugabe in January after months of political stalemate.
While his party may favour a return to the Commonwealth, the final decision will likely rest with Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.
Zanu PF passed a resolution to quit the Commonwealth after Zimbabwe was suspended from the club amid accusations Mugabe had “stolen” the 2002 presidential election vote.
A bristling Mugabe said the Commonwealth had been hijacked by racists who were interfering in Zimbabwe's internal affairs.
"The Commonwealth is a mere club, but it has become like Animal Farm, where some members are more equal than others. How can [Tony] Blair claim to regulate and direct events and still say all of us are equals?" he said.