Prospects of rejoining Commonwealth very thin

File pic: Flags of countries in the common wealth

GOOD day President Emmerson Mnangagwa,

Your Excellency, I sense that prospects of Zimbabwe rejoining the Commonwealth are still distant, laden with daunting challenges. Despite your invitation to the coronation of King Charles III, readmission is not imminent.

There was no correlation between the invitation and the likelihood of readmission. A long history of contested elections, coupled with government reluctance to reform, are the poisoned chalice that stunt the thawing of relations with the Commonwealth and the international community at large.

It did not symbolise the proverbial silver lining of the country’s readmission. Rather, the invitation was by no means good tidings that were bound to culminate in readmission. It was indeed desperately overzealous to attribute it to the success of the regime’s engagement and re-engagement efforts. It was foolhardy to raise the roof with glee over the invitation.

Given that the application was submitted in 2018, it stands to reason that there are many breaches stalling readmission. All things being equal, the application to rejoin the grouping of Britain and its former colonies could long have been approved.

Yet, it is for want of meeting the criteria that question marks still hang over the application. A number of Commonwealth assessment teams have since then visited the country on review missions. Each successive team found out that there were still fundamental criteria gaps.

Your Excellency, the ball is in your court. However, with such close associates as Equatorial Guinea’s long-time ruler, Teodoro Nguema Mbasogo, who advised you that you cannot be in power and lose an election, you might as well kiss goodbye to rejoining the Commonwealth.

His remarks at your send-off at the end of your three-day State visit to Malabo last year were altogether an antithesis of the Commonwealth ideals.

“You cannot be in power and lose an election. Use the power you have to win the election. The opposition might make noise, and say whatever, but you are in power, you cannot lose an election. Make sure you win the election,” he unashamedly said.

Methinks, Mbasogo knew that he was reaffirming the practice which Zanu PF uses to retain power.

Agreed, the deposed late former President Robert Mugabe was an expert on electoral chicanery and violence. Granted, you are his quintessential heir apparent.

Despite endorsements by the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc), Zimbabwe has a soiled reputation of disputed elections. Consequently, neighbouring countries are dragged into the throes of woes resulting from her electoral delinquency.

Your Excellency, ever since former South African President Thabo Mbeki initiated his so-called quiet diplomacy, the Zimbabwe socio-economic meltdown has been burdening the region. His failure to speak boldly as prophet Nathan did to King David, was inherited in its entirety by the current Sadc leadership.

It is not only the Commonwealth that is concerned about the diminishing returns of absence of democracy in Zimbabwe. Recently, European Union (EU) ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jobst von Kirchmann said if the country held credible elections, there would be increased appetite for the EU to help clear its debt that currently stands at US $17,6 billion.

He emphasised that the EU bloc was following closely the process leading to elections, which is of great importance to the democratic trajectory of the country.

“The EU encourages all electoral stakeholders, State and non-State alike, to play their role in ensuring the organisation of credible and peaceful electoral process,” he said.

Your Excellency, there was reason in the madness of some British parliamentarians who pleaded for the withdrawal of your invitation to the coronation of King Charles III. They were convinced that you would not facilitate a credible and peaceful electoral process.

Considering the disputes ignited by the delimitation report which was disowned by seven of the nine members of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the compilation of the voters roll, prospects of a credible and peaceful electoral process are, indeed, in jeopardy.

Added to that is the systematic manipulation of the law against some of the non-State stakeholders, notably the opposition — with one subjected to a lengthy pretrial incarceration, while several others were handed convictions typical of determinations of a partial justice system.

While a blind eye and deaf ear are turned on allegations of money laundering and gold smuggling against the presidency and their inner circle, basically, the law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary do not enjoy the independence inherent in their mandate.

As I see it, your visit was a debacle. Little wonder, you cut a forlorn figure among statesmen. Duly, probity warranted you to delegate instead of attending in person. It could have sufficed to send a proxy and a lean delegation travelling on scheduled flights.

Yet, wanderlust and craving for the recently acquired presidential jet prevailed over reason. Pity, the wisdom of Sean Covey: “We are free to choose our paths, but we cannot choose the consequences that come with them,” went unheeded.

Your Excellency, as I see it, failure to thaw relations was a definitive diplomatic debacle. However, your courtesy call on the Commonwealth secretary-general, Patricia Scotland, was a consolation. It was honourable of her to reiterate to you the values of the Commonwealth.

  • Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public-speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist. He writes here in his personal capacity.

Related Topics