Zimbabwe outlines political and economic reforms progress in Commonwealth return bid

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa
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THE Zimbabwean government insists the country has made great strides in addressing political and electoral reforms as it bids to be readmitted into the Commonwealth despite continuing tensions and arrests of political opponents.

A Commonwealth delegation led by deputy secretary general Luis Franceschi is in the country at the invitation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to assess progress made by Zimbabwe in implementing reforms.

Speaking Tuesday at the official meeting of ministers and the delegation, Fredrick Shava said Zimbabwe has covered much ground in terms of reforms under the administration of President Mnangagwa.

“I am pleased to inform you that since the last Commonwealth Assessment Mission in July 2019, Government has made significant strides in the implementation of our reform agenda, as well as in meeting the five expectations that are critical to our re-admission into the Commonwealth,” said Shava.

“Vision 2030 prioritises the reorientation of the country towards democratisation; respect for human and property rights.

“To date, Government has made tremendous strides in enhancing civil and political rights of its citizens. There has been tremendous progress in the alignment of laws to the Constitution.

“Suffice to note that statutes that relate to human rights are being given priority in this process.”

Zimbabwe left the group in 2003 at the height of the fast-tracked land reform programme which was characterised by violence.

This received widespread condemnation from the West, resulting in Zimbabwe under then President Robert Mugabe.

However, as part of its so-called engagement and re-engagement policy, Mnangagwa’s government submitted an application on May 15, 2018 to re-join the grouping of 54 countries, a year after Mugabe’s ouster in a military coup.

Foreign affairs minister Frederick Shava

Shava said Zimbabwe has aligned its laws to the constitution and processes are underway to amend the electoral Act.

“Regarding the amendment of the Electoral Act, consultations are being held and most of the recommendations from the Electoral Observation Mission have been incorporated,” said the Minister.

“Notable achievements have also been witnessed since the inception of the political dialogue, notably the acceptance and endorsement of POLAD by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), as a worthwhile and timely intervention in promoting peace, unity, social cohesion and dialogue.

“Further, POLAD has played an active role in promoting economic, social and governance issues at national level.”

The Commonwealth, a grouping of former colonies of Britain, set Zimbabwe targets of addressing issues of human rights and respecting the rule of law.

Opposition parties have accused the government of shrinking the political landscape as the country builds up to next year’s elections.

Political tensions have been rising in the country with the arrests of opposition legislators Job Sikhala, Godfrey Sithole and other 14 members of Nyatsime.

The Commonwealth delegation is set to meet opposition leaders in the country as  part of its assessment of the reforms in the country.

However reports are suggesting that the delegation may snub the opposition parties outside the POLAD platform.

MDC-T spokesperson Witness Dube said that the party welcomes the visit and are looking forward to interacting with the delegation.

“We welcome the visit by the delegation as it will give a nuanced understanding of exactly what is happening,” said Dube.

“We would not want the Commonwealth to have a narrow perspective. Let them consult widely so that they have a wide view of issues.”

Efforts to get a comment from Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC)  were futile as Fadzayi Mahere and Ostallos Siziba swinged from post to post. – Newzim