via Is Zimbabwe coming up for debate at the Commonwealth again? 01 November 2013 by Charles Rukuni InsiderZim
Zimbabwe has been a thorn in the flesh of the Commonwealth from the time it was Rhodesia under Ian Smith when he refused to grant majority rule but President Robert Mugabe did the unthinkable 10 years ago.
He withdrew the country from the organisation after it refused to lift a one year suspension on Zimbabwe for ironically breaching the Harare Declaration, a set of guidelines for theorganisation signed in the Zimbabwean capital in 1991.
The Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe after the 2002 presidential elections which it said were flawed. Observers from the organisation issued an adverse report on the elections won by President Robert Mugabe.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Mugabe had stolen the elections and challenged the results.
But despite its suspension, Zimbabwe has come up for debate at every Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting.
At its last meeting in Australia in 2011, CHOGM agreed to look forward to the conditions being created for the return of Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth.
Britain Minister of State for Faith and Communities and Senior Minister of State Baroness Warsi told the House of Lords last month that CHOGM had also agreed to continue to encourage the parties to the inclusive government to implement the global political agreement faithfully and effectively.
“Any application from Zimbabwe to reapply for membership of the Commonwealth would be a matter for all 53 countries to decide. It would be reviewed in the light of the Government of Zimbabwe addressing the issues of concern and the breaches of Commonwealth fundamental values which led to Zimbabwe’s suspension and withdrawal, including the removal of repressive legislation and guarantees on the freedom of the press,” Baroness Warsi said.
The subject of Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth was raised by Lord St John of Blesto who expressed hope that Zimbabwe would rejoin the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth leaders are due to meet in Sri Lanka in two weeks, from 15-17 November.
Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said that his government would try to get Zimbabwe readmitted into the organisation if it won the elections.
Mugabe, who pulled the country out, has said Zimbabwe will never rejoin the Commonwealth an even called it an evil organisation.
Mugabe won the elections in July marking the end of the inclusive government.
Britain and other European countries have refused to recognise the elections but the EU has since lifted most of the sanctions it had imposed on the country and some of its leaders leaving only Mugabe, his wife Grace, Didymus Mutasa and the service chiefs.
Though it won more than two-thirds majority, ZANU-PF is anxious to get back into the international community and the new constitution might provide answers to some of the previous repressive laws.
The constitutional court has for example scrapped the offence of undermining the authority of the President and “communicating falsehoods” because they are not in line with the new constitution.