Zimbabwe denied C’wealth observer status

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FOREIGN Affairs and International Trade minister Sibusiso Moyo will today make a presentation at a breakfast meeting on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London where he is expected to outline Zimbabwe’s reform agenda.

By Owen Gagare

Zimbabwe had requested to attend the CHOGM meeting as observer but the request was turned down on grounds that such a status does not exist.

A special arrangement however was made for Zimbabwe to make a presentation on the sidelines of a CHOGM meeting today.

A British Harare embassy spokesperson yesterday confirmed that Zimbabwe does not have formal observer status and will therefore not be part of meetings.
“Zimbabwe does not have formal observer status at CHOGM and we understand will not be attending any Commonwealth events. However Foreign Minister Moyo is welcome in London and we are delighted he will take advantage of CHOGM to meet a number of key interlocutors in the margins,” the spokesperson said.

On Zimbabwe’s readmission to the Commonwealth the spokesperson said; “Applying is a matter for the Zimbabwean people to decide. Zimbabwe would have to formally apply to the Commonwealth secretariat and the final decision would then be for all Commonwealth members. However, the UK would strongly support a new Zimbabwe that is committed to political and economic reform, and the re-entry of Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth.”

The Zimbabwe Independent understands that for Zimbabwe to be readmitted it has to first write to the Commonwealth secretariat which will then refer the matter to heads of state.
This means the earliest Zimbabwe can be readmitted is at the next CHOGM meeting in 2020.

The embassy confirmed that Moyo would make a special presentation on the sidelines of CHOGM meeting saying that the meeting is primarily an opportunity for Zimbabwe to set out its commitment to international re-engagement.

Moyo will also meet the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and British Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin as a follow-up to earlier engagements.

Zimbabwe quit Commonwealth in December 2003 after a meeting of the organisation’s heads of government extended the country’s suspension from its ranks.

The Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe in March 2002 following the presidential election, which was marred by high levels of politically motivated violence.

Zimbabwe also has to fulfil a number of obligations in line with the Harare Declaration of 1991 which saw members of the Commonwealth pledging to ensure the protection and promotion of the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth; democracy, democratic processes and institutions which reflect national circumstances, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government; fundamental human rights, including equal rights as well as create opportunities for all citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief among other pledges.

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