UK minister says Zimbabwe not ready for Commonwealth re-admission; cites rule of law and rights abuses

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By Leopold Munhende, Chief Correspondent

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s much vaunted re-engagement policy has once again been given a slap in the face, with the British parliament hearing that Zimbabwe is not yet at a level where it could be readmitted into the Commonwealth.

Mnangagwa announced re-engagement interests with western countries in 2017, arguing the previous two-decades animosity was not benefiting any of the two parties.

The following year, the Zimbabwean leader formally applied to rejoin the Commonwealth after a 15-year absence from the organisation.

Consultations are reportedly underway among the 54-member nations with Zimbabwe seeking the support of Rwanda, hosts of the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

However, speaking in the House of Lords Tuesday, Commonwealth minister of state, Zac Goldsmith said the human rights situation and rule of law were pivotal to the readmission of Zimbabwe.

“Indeed, respect for democratic principles, alongside human rights, the rule of law and civil society space, is central to Zimbabwe’s stated desire to see the UK sanctions regime lifted and to rejoin the Commonwealth,” said Goldsmith.

“As noble Lords are aware, the decision about whether Zimbabwe rejoins the Commonwealth is for all Commonwealth members.

“In due course, we would, of course, like nothing more than to see Zimbabwe rejoin. However, Zimbabwe cannot yet credibly be said to meet the principles set out in the Commonwealth Charter.”

The Commonwealth is an association of 54 countries, most of which are former British colonies.

The late President Robert Mugabe withdrew Zimbabwe from the beneficial organisation in 2003 after a bitter fallout with Britain over Harare’s violent land reforms.