Zim’s Commonwealth bid on course

The Sunday Mail

Zimbabwe’s foreign policy in the Second Republic is anchored on ensuring the country regains its past glory by integrating into the community of nations after years of isolation typified by the First Republic.

The Commonwealth stands as one such critical organisation that can enhance the country’s standing in the community of nations.

Cognisant of the critical role the Commonwealth plays in the international arena, Zimbabwe at the dawn of the New Dispensation formally applied to have its membership back.

While the country’s re-admittance is fundamentally dependent on the 53-member countries, there seems to be abundant goodwill to make Zimbabwe optimistic that it will be accepted back into club at the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled for Kigali, Rwanda, next year.

A catalogue of past events and developments give Zimbabwe the optimism that it will regain its membership.

At the end of September 2018, His Excellency President Mnangagwa met with Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York where the two exchanged letters.

And earlier, just after the July 30 2018 harmonised general elections, Baroness Scotland sent a congratulatory letter to President Mnangagwa for successful conduct of the elections as well as for being inaugurated as President of Zimbabwe.

Most recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Dr Sibusiso Busi Moyo met Baroness Scotland after attending the Global Conference for Media Freedom in England where the conversation was said to have been characterised by conviviality.

Beyond these diplomatic engagements, Zimbabwe has since the advent of the New Dispensation mapped out a trajectory that seeks to implement a raft of reforms meant to deepen and widen the democratic space, ensure the ease of doing business by ratcheting the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra, and repeal certain laws that had become outdated.

Most of these reforms have already been implemented or are taking shape. The Gender Commission, the Peace and Reconciliation Commission, the revamped Anti-Corruption Commission with arresting powers, the repealing of AIPA and POSA including the setting up of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), are just a few of the initiatives implemented to deepen the democratic space and promote a culture of tolerance, inclusivity and national cohesion.

Although the opposition MDC-A is intent on blighting these well-intended reforms, the world is surely not blind to the sincerity of President Mnangagwa’s administration.

In President Mnangagwa’s own words, the reforms are not meant to please any external powers but are being implemented because the Government views them as progressive and good for the country.

It must be noted that the reforms dovetail with the country’s foreign policy, anchored on the need to facilitate economic recovery, economic growth, create employment and foster a conducive climate that attracts investors into the country.

Zimbabwe’s quest for re-admittance to the Commonwealth is thus fashioned with the primary desire or obligation to nurture and protect its national interests, security, independence, sovereignty, ideological goals and spur economic prosperity.

The Commonwealth thus stands as one such organisation where Zimbabwe could have a voice to shape its own destiny by promoting its own political and economic interests, image and be able to influence the international community on a number of issues while ensuring the safety of its nationals abroad.