Muchena barred from Commonwealth meeting

Mthulisi Mathuthu

MINISTER of Science and Technology Olivia Muchena was excluded from the two-day Commonwealth Science Council meeting which ended in Johannesburg yesterday.



ce=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Quashing claims by Muchena that she had been invited to the meeting organised by the 54-member club, spokesperson for the South African Ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Andrew Alphane, said the Zimbabwean minister was not invited and therefore did not participate in the meeting.


Alphane said Muchena had only been invited by minister Ben Ngubane to attend a high-level forum which started on Monday and ended on Tuesday.

“She only attended the high-level forum meeting which had nothing to do with the Commonwealth,” Alphane said yesterday. “Even Angola also attended because it was a separate (ie non-Commonwealth) meeting.”


Claiming that Zimbabwe’s suspension was null and void because the government didn’t recognise it, Muchena told journalists in South Africa earlier this week that she had been invited for the Commonwealth meeting.


But Alphane was adamant that she wasn’t.


“I am putting my head on the block on that one. If she was invited it was by mistake and by some mischievous fellow,” he said.


The Commonwealth secretariat also denied it had extended an invitation, saying the Commonwealth couldn’t have invited Zimbabwe as it was not eligible to attend a Commonwealth meeting owing to its suspension from the organisation’s councils.


Following persistent reports that Muchena would attend, Ngubane threatened on Wednesday that he would throw out any Zimbabwean gate-crashers at the Commonwealth meeting.


“Arts, Culture, Science and Technology minister Ben Ngubane says he will throw out any Zimbabwean government representative who attends tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) meeting,” the SABC reported on Wednesday.


South Africa was hosting the 21st general meeting of the Commonwealth, Science Council and a concurrent meeting of Commonwealth science ministers.


Zimbabwe was suspended for 12 months from the 54-nation club for human rights violations. The suspension is to be reviewed in October this year.

Despite claims that “a majority” (two) of the troika sought to readmit Zimbabwe, a majority of members of the Commonwealth opposed the move.