ZIMBABWE, which has applied to be readmitted into the Commonwealth, has a strong presence at the ongoing Commonwealth meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
Ministers, business leaders, students, and members of civil society are in Kigali attending commonwealth forums.
The country is eager to be readmitted into the group as part of its re-engagement drive after it withdrew in 2003, following a stormy diplomatic relationship with Britain.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa wants his country readmitted into the Commonwealth. On 15 May 2018, Mnangagwa submitted an application to rejoin the club of 54 countries from different continents.
Zimbabwean Ambassador to Rwanda Charity Manyeruke, who is attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, welcomed as “a positive development” the extension of an invitation to her country to attend the Kigali gathering.
“Zimbabwe is excited to be participating in Commonwealth forums as this presents opportunities to network with the international community taking into account the government of Zimbabwe’s policy of engagement and reengagement,” Manyeruke said.
“The commonwealth meeting in Kigali has provided opportunities for our Zimbabwean diaspora across the globe who are participating as panelists, facilitators, and as delegates in the forums.”
Added Manyeruke; “I have met with the Zimbabwean Diaspora, media, private sector, academia, civil society, those in finance and banking, arts and students. They have had an opportunity to engage.”
Zimbabwe’s women affairs minister Stembiso Nyoni attended the Commonwealth Women Forum while foreign affairs deputy minister David Musabayana and tourism and hospitality deputy minister, Barbara Rwodzi, are attending the Commonwealth Business Forum which was officially opened by President Paul Kagame on Tuesday, June 21.
The Zimbabwe Embassy is also exhibiting at the high Commission square where it is showcasing products made in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) acting CEO Duduzile Shinya said: “We appreciate being invited to the Commonwealth Business Forum.
“It has given us an opportunity to network with our peers and potential investors. It has also given us the opportunity to present the attributes of Zimbabwe as well as the opportunities in our own country.”
Zimbabwe’s export promotion body, Zimtrade is also in attendance.
The southern African country will be looking at friendly member countries, especially Rwanda, to support its efforts to be readmitted.
Zimbabwe and Rwanda enjoy cordial bilateral relations.
The country’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, David Musabayana said Zimbabwe’s new thrust was focused more on economic diplomacy ahead of politics.
Musabayana said: “We are humbled to be invited to attend as observers. We have been engaged on various forums where we are networking. There is a lot of interest in Zimbabwe from Commonwealth member countries who are keen to do business and invest in Zimbabwe.”
He said the process for Zimbabwe’s bid to be readmitted into the Commonwealth was going well and that he held engagements with the chairperson of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Lord Marland of Odstock on the sidelines of the ongoing Commonwealth Business Forum.
When Zimbabwe applied for readmission, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “Zimbabwe’s eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was then the Foreign Secretary tweeted saying: “Fantastic news that Zimbabwe … wishes to rejoin the Commonwealth.”
To re-join, Zimbabwe must demonstrate that it complies with the fundamental values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, including democracy and rule of law plus protection of human rights such as freedom of expression.
The membership process requires an informal assessment to be undertaken by representatives of the Secretary-General, followed by consultations with other Commonwealth countries.