AMH is an independent media house free from political ties or outside influence. We have four newspapers: The Zimbabwe Independent, a business weekly published every Friday, The Standard, a weekly published every Sunday, and Southern and NewsDay, our daily newspapers. Each has an online edition.

  • Marketing
  • Digital Marketing Manager: tmutambara@alphamedia.co.zw
  • Tel: (04) 771722/3
  • Online Advertising
  • Digital@alphamedia.co.zw
  • Web Development
  • jmanyenyere@alphamedia.co.zw

Commonwealth: Let’s not take chances

Late former President Robert Mugabe

SPEAKING at the National Sports Stadium to mark Zimbabwe’s 24th independence anniversary on April 18, 2004 and four months after the southern African nation withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations after it had been suspended over human rights issues, the late former President Robert Mugabe emphatically declared: “We shall never go back to this evil organisation (Commonwealth).”

Mugabe told the world that the country had left the Commonwealth because its former colonial master, Britain, was attempting to “enslave us, to make us puppets… When we left we did not say we shall return, the door through which we left is now locked”.

How things have changed with the passage of time and almost 20 years since Zimbabwe exited the Commonwealth, the country is now somewhat eager to be readmitted following concerted efforts by Mugabe’s predecessor President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

It is interesting how history keeps repeating itself.

When Zimbabwe was still Rhodesia and led then by Ian Smith as prime minister, the country left the Commonwealth in 1965 when Smith made the infamous Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain.

The country was in the wilderness for 15 years and only returned to the Commonwealth family at independence in 1980.

Now a team from the Commonwealth is in the country, albeit for the third time, to assess the possibility of Zimbabwe rejoining the 54-member organisation and unlike its return in 1980, this time around Zimbabwe has to prove that it is committed to upholding certain principles which it breached leading to its suspension in the first place.

Incidentally, the country was suspended in late 2003 for breaching a declaration it signed in its capital Harare in 1991. The Harare Declaration stated, among other central issues, that Zimbabwe — together with other Commonwealth members — promote: Democracy; democratic processes and institutions; the rule of law and the independence of the Judiciary; just and honest governance; and fundamental human rights, including equal rights and opportunities for all citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or political affiliation.

And based on this very declaration the Commonwealth team will assess the country’s current position before making its recommendations.

While we sincerely hope for a positive outcome for the country because it has been really cold outside the Commonwealth and the experience has not been pleasant, we implore our government to be sincere in its decision to rejoin the organisation.

As it is, to be honest, the way government has been behaving leaves a lot to be desired and there has been very little evidence that the country is serious about readmission.

The Commonwealth team has come at a very opportune time as we prepare for the 2023 elections. Disregarding whatever has happened in the past, it is critical that our government judiciously navigates the period up to the elections and what happens soon after the elections because this will, whether some of us like it or not, determine the country’s chances of returning to the Commonwealth. A free and fair election, devoid of intimidation and many other electoral malpractices, will definitely enhance Zimbabwe’s readmission chances.

Zimbabwe has been out in the cold for a long time and it should not mess up this chance, otherwise it risks being condemned back into the wilderness of pariah States.

The release of some political prisoners who were being denied bail for the past four months is a good start and we honestly hope that this is not being done just to please the visiting Commonwealth team because there are so many other misdemeanours that are sticking out like sore thumbs which can easily jeopardise Zimbabwe’s chances of returning to the Commonwealth.

Related Topics