by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE – ZIMBABWE has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth of Nations 16 years after it left the grouping of former British colonies.
The Commonwealth confirmed the proposal came in a letter President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed to Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
The letter is dated May 15.
Scotland echoed sentiments of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, who have in 2009 and 2011 expressed hope of Zimbabwe’s return.
“Zimbabwe’s eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history,” Scotland said.
The Southern African country joined the Commonwealth on its independence in 1980.
It withdrew in 2003 after the organisation declined to lift a 12-month suspension it meted out after violent elections and human rights abuses by the Mugabe administration.
To re-join, Zimbabwe must demonstrate that it complies with the values set out in the Commonwealth Charter. These include democracy, rule of law and 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.
Zimbabwe appears to have made progress since the administration of Mnangagwa’s administration took over from the Mugabe regime after a military intervention last year.
It has invited the Commonwealth to observe its forthcoming elections in July/August.
Scotland urged the government, opposition parties, electoral authorities and all stakeholders to ensure credible polls.
Mnangagwa this weekend pledged elections would be peaceful, free and fair.
– CAJ News