According to the Commonwealth Lawyers Association President, Brian Speers, Zimbabwe has a potential to be re-admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations nearly two decades after renouncing its membership due to President Mnangagwa‘s engagement and re-engagement strategy.
Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth in 2003 when former imperial power Britain internationalized a bilateral disagreement over land redistribution in Zimbabwe, a conflict that London wanted resolved according to its rules.
The Commonwealth as a whole offered suspension, but Zimbabwe insisted on going all in or going all out.
In 2018, President Mnangagwa said he wanted to engage and re-engage all nations of the world under the phrase “Friend to all, Enemy to none,” signaling Zimbabwe‘s desire to seek readmission into the 54-member bloc.
Speers said his “experience in Zimbabwe is positive” and that he had “been impressed” as he spoke about the status of Zimbabwe’s application ahead of the week-long Commonwealth Heads of Government conference, which begins today in Rwanda.
He highlighted that while the subject of Zimbabwe’s readmission to the Commonwealth is a “political problem,” the country’s stability invites investors.
“My experience in Zimbabwe is positive and of course the re-admission of Zimbabwe into the Commonwealth is a political matter and there are certain criteria around her consideration.
“I must say I have been impressed by the awareness of both the civic society organisation and the legal community of the importance of some clearly fundamental rule of law issues and it is well known that in a democracy where the rule of law is present, that creates stability as it creates the opportunity for free, fair and peaceful elections,” said Speers.
Because of Zimbabwe’s stability, it was possible to respect diversity, which is why he focused on matters related to the rule of law.
“The rule of law creates the opportunity for respecting differences and moreover, it attracts investments and it enables the conversation with the wider international community to take place.
“So I have been emphasising the rule of law. I have been talking about the principles on the pillars of Government, separating the Executive from the Judiciary and the independence of the legal profession,” Mr Speers added.
Then-British Prime Minister Theresa May sent her ambassador, Minister for Africa Rory Stewart, to President Mnangagwa’s inauguration in November 2017, with the message that “Britain wishes to be a genuine partner for Zimbabweans as they construct a new future.”
Dr Sibusiso Moyo, Zimbabwe’s late Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, met his then British counterpart Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London six months later, who said his country “strongly supports Zimbabwe’s re-entry to the Commonwealth.”
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