Zimbabwe says western countries block readmission into Commonwealth

HARARE – Zimbabwe has accused western countries of blocking its bid to rejoin the Commonwealth bloc.

The late former President Mugabe pulled the country out of the Commonwealth in 2003 after he was criticised over disputed elections, human rights abuses and a violent seizure of white-owned farms.

Following Mugabe’s ouster in a military coup in 2018, new president Emmerson Mnangagwa made re-joining the Commonwealth one of his foreign policy objectives.

But acting foreign minister Professor Amon Murwira says Zimbabwe has found its path blocked by countries setting pre-conditions over enduring concerns about the country’s human rights record.

Murwira said on Wednesday: “I will not say explicitly at this point who, just suffice to say that there may be some countries who might not be happy with our land reform programme which has been very successful and which we are not going to reverse. Any condition of re-admission has to agree with this fact.

“This might be one of the problems which we are facing when we are going back, but just to re-emphasise that we have a solid policy of engagement and re-engagement and that Zimbabwe is a friend to all and enemy to none.”

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Rwanda, which recently took up the chairmanship of the grouping of former British colonies, had pledged to help Zimbabwe return to the fold.

She said the pledge was made by Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta when he visited Zimbabwe last month to open his country’s embassy.

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