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Commonwealth readmission in 2020 – Mnangagwa

Mnangagwa is welcomed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare yesterday on his return from the 73rd Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly by Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi and Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri. — (Picture by John Manzongo)
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HARARE – Zimbabwe is likely to be formally readmitted into the Commonwealth at the international body’s next Heads of State and Government Meeting scheduled for Rwanda in 2020, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.

On returning from a successful visit to New York for the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, as well as a host of bilateral engagements with fellow leaders and discussions with international organisations, President Mnangagwa said the Commonwealth leadership was “anxious” to have Zimbabwe in the fold.

Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth in 2003 at the height of political tensions with the West over the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme.

Since coming into office in November 2017 after Mr Robert Mugabe resigned under pressure of impeachment, and more so after winning the 2018 presidential election, President Mnangagwa has set about engaging and re-engaging the international community as part of his socio-economic turnaround agenda.

In addition, President Mnangagwa has indicated that his discussions with senior United States government officials while in New York had furthered the objective of normalising relations with that country and getting the sanctions law — the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act — repealed in due course.

President Mnangagwa said yesterday, “We met the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mrs (Patricia) Scotland, and she laid out the roadmap which has to be followed.

“They are anxious that at the next Heads of State meeting Zimbabwe should be readmitted. They are anxious about that happening. They informed that currently there is nothing that constrains Zimbabwe from coming back to the Commonwealth.”

On his meeting with a delegation headed by US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr Tibor Nagy, President Mnangagwa said: “They are eager that we re-engage with the United States. They say that they are happy that this time around there was a better electoral process in Zimbabwe.

“But they feel that there are grey areas they would want attended to as a result of the (August 1 violence) incident, but they are looking forward to the results of the Commission of Inquiry on that incident.”

On the whole, President Mnangagwa spoke of a highly successful economic and political diplomatic outreach, in which he briefed other world leaders and representatives of multilateral financiers on developments in Zimbabwe that made the country conducive for investment.

“Firstly, we presented the current environment existing in Zimbabwe, both in terms of our political democratic space which we have created since the New Dispensation came into office, in particular post our elections,” he said.

“We were able to deal with the issue of economic reforms that we have done and which we intend to do. As captured in my SONA, my State of the Nation Address, (it captures) the direction, the roadmap for both economic and political reforms in terms of legislation.

“Beyond that I had a long list of consultations with other Heads of State, with I think the entire sadc — those who were there — and the majority of those in the AU. Beyond Africa, we had consultations with ministers from the UK, Belgium, Italy, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, and other states.

“In Latin America we had Colombia, Panama, Bolivia, those were some of the States we had consultations with. They wished us well.”

President Mnangagwa was accompanied to the US by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya and Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications) Mr George Charamba, among other senior Government officials.

On his arrival in Harare, President Mnangagwa was welcomed by Vice Presidents Dr Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi; Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchunguri-Kashiri, other Government officials and service chiefs.