Commonwealth to send another delegation to Zimbabwe

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The Commonwealth will send another delegation to Zimbabwe in the second half of this year as the country continues with its re-engagement efforts to re-join the grouping of former British colonies.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs James Manzou told a parliamentary committee Wednesday that the team will come to assess the country’s political and economic situation.

“Our re-engagement efforts with the Commonwealth are on course but like any other organization, there are processes or stages that have to be completed before there could be any conclusion.

“The Commonwealth secretariat has indicated to us that they would like to undertake another visit to Zimbabwe and that will be the second stage. So they will be coming to Zimbabwe during the second half of the year and thereafter there are two other stages that have to be completed before the issue (of readmission) reaches the summit level,” Manzou said.

He said the mood was positive among most Commonwealth members for Zimbabwe to re-join the grouping that it left in 2003 at the height of a diplomatic tiff between Harare and London.

“Of course it differs from one country to another in terms of enthusiasm but there is general readiness for us to continue engaging with them,” he said.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in September last year met the organization’s secretary-general Patricia Scotland to work on modalities for readmission.

At the time, the then British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing said the United Kingdom was supportive of Harare rejoining the international organization.

She said there is a process that has to be followed for Zimbabwe to rejoin the grouping of former British colonies.

“That process, as I understand it, has started but it would not formally conclude until the next Commonwealth summit, which will be in Malaysia in 2020,” Laing said.

“It’s not automatic. It involves ensuring that the Harare Declaration, which was signed here in early 1990s, is enacted,” she added.

The Commonwealth is part of several international organizations that observed Zimbabwe’s national elections in 2018, its first election observation mission in the country in more than a decade.