Human rights lobby group, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (ZHRNGO) says the country is not yet ready to be readmitted into the Commonwealth due to continued abuses by the state on civilians.
This follows last week’s futile attempt by Harare to lobby for readmittance into the group at a meeting held in Rwanda where Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to that country, Charity Manyeruke, confirmed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration was ready to push for another chance.
At the time, Manyeruke said being at the meeting was a positive development.
“Zimbabwe is excited to be participating in Commonwealth forums as this presents opportunities to network with the international community taking into account the government of Zimbabwe’s policy of engagement and reengagement,” Ms Manyeruke said last week.
However, ZHRNGO, said Zimbabwe does not pass the test due to the humanitarian situation ensuing in the country.
“We would note that since the suspension and withdrawal of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, the country has held four elections, one of which was so violent that it was repudiated even by the African Union. None of the elections has received a passing grade from reputable observer groups,” said the ZHRNGO Forum.
“We also note the serious political change that took place in November 2017 with the removal from office of Robert Mugabe, and the human rights record of the government both before and after the election in 2018. The Forum has had occasion to issue repeated reports documenting the unacceptable human rights record of the Zimbabwe government since November 2017.
“We draw attention to these reports because they demonstrate that it is doubtful that Zimbabwe currently meets the conditions of adherence to the Harare Commonwealth Declaration (1991), or The Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme on the Harare Declaration (1995).
“We draw the Commonwealth’s attention to these reports because they outline in detail the problems that led the Commonwealth to take action on Zimbabwe, and this is relevant for any discussion about re-admission.”
Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, however, refuted claims that Zimbabwe was lobbying for readmittance as this was not on the government’s agenda.
“Commonwealth euphoria is not Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe has not expressed any new wish to re-join the Commonwealth it left over its sovereign land reform programme,” Charamba wrote on Twitter.
Charamba claimed that some countries, including the United Kingdom, “have wished for Zimbabwe’s return. Not quite our priority at this stage,” Charamba noted.
The late Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe between 1980 and 2017 with an iron fist, was at the loggerheads with the Commonwealth over alleged human rights abuses and electoral fraud. He subsequently pulled Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth in 2003.