FORMER VP, Joice Mujuru, says Zimbabwe needs to be part of the Commonwealth yet again if it is to be relevant in international politics.
The Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader said this Tuesday during her maiden speech as opposition leader. She said ZPF is committed to ensuring Zimbabwe re-joins the club of former British colonies.
“We will seek rapprochement with all countries without compromising our sovereignty,” she added.
Her comments come a week after foreign affairs minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, said anyone lobbying for Harare to be allowed back to the Commonwealth would be working against Zimbabwe’s position.
Mumbengegwi told the parliamentary portfolio committee on foreign affairs that Zimbabwe had no plans to be part of the bloc of former British colonies again. He said Zimbabwe was unjustifiably suspended from the commonwealth in 2002.
“Since then, there has never been a review of Commonwealth membership by the Government of Zimbabwe. In fact, it is difficult to see any such review taking place in the foreseeable future.
“Therefore, any parliamentarians who lobby foreign parliamentarians for Zimbabwe to be allowed to join the Commonwealth must know that their efforts are at variance with the Government of Zimbabwe. The Commonwealth is, after all, first and foremost an association of governments,” he said.
Zimbabwe was initially suspended following a report by the Commonwealth Election Observer Mission which raised complaints of political violence ahead of the presidential polls which were won by President Robert Mugabe.
The suspension was announced by the Commonwealth troika comprising former South African president Thabo Mbeki, his then Nigerian counterpart President Olusegun Obasanjo and the then Australian prime minister John Howard.
Before Zimbabwe’s pull out, Obasanjo was given the crucial role of deciding whether Zimbabwe had progressed enough for it to return to the Commonwealth. He said Zimbabwe could probably have returned within “months rather than… years”.
But that did not happen. Commenting on Zimbabwe’s suspension, and his lack of an invitation to the 2003 summit in Nigeria, Mugabe likened the Commonwealth to characters in George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm, where some members are more equal than others.