Commonwealth: Zimbabwe to be readmitted soon

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Zimbabwe is now most likely to be readmitted into the Commonwealth following positive recommendations from a fact-finding team that visited the country last year, with politicians from influential Western countries such as Britain and Canada conceding its readmission is inevitable.

A Commonwealth delegation led by the organisation’s Assistant Secretary-General, Professor Luis Franceschi, that visited Zimbabwe in November last year, acknowledged that Harare has made tremendous progress in laying the desired foundation for re-admittance into the club of mainly former British colonies.

And recently, debate has been raging in the British Parliament with lawmakers in that country now embracing the notion that Zimbabwe could soon be readmitted.

In the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, a sitting in January that was initiated by Liberal Democrats member Lord Jonathan Oates, the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe (APPGZ) committee, left politicians drawn from the Conservative and Labour parties acknowledging the inevitability of Zimbabwe’s readmission into the Commonwealth group.

The hour-long debate also exposed the double standards in the selective application of conditions for admission or readmission into the organisation from one country to another and compliance with “values” of the group.

However, in discussing the possibility of Zimbabwe’s readmission, House members reminded each other that “all is not perfect within the Commonwealth” and that should not make members “blind to the flaws and inconsistencies of the organisation and of its constituent nations”.

Some of the noted inconsistencies are on the issue of capital punishment, where only 37 percent of Commonwealth members have abolished the death penalty in law, compared with 57 percent of all countries internationally, with several Commonwealth nations defending their sovereign right to retain it.

During the debate, Lord Oates, one of Zimbabwe’s most strident critics, admitted that “the UK government is not minded to oppose readmission because they do not want to be seen as isolated on the issue”.

While admitting the inevitability of Zimbabwe’s readmission into the 56-member-bloc, the co-chair of the APPGZ committee went on “to ask His Majesty’s Government what plans they have to work with other Commonwealth nations to block Zimbabwe’s readmission into the Commonwealth”.

Last December, after meeting President Mnangagwa in Luanda, Angola, Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland, said Zimbabwe was putting a “great deal of energy and commitment” to be readmitted back into the Commonwealth.

Her statements corroborated those made by then former UK Foreign Secretary Mr Boris Johnson in 2018 concerning Zimbabwe-Britain relations and prospects of re-joining the Commonwealth.

“We must remember democracies are not made in one day. The UK stands ready in friendship to support a Zimbabwe that fully embraces the rule of law, human rights and economic reform,” said Mr Johnson who is also a former British Prime Minister.