By Darlington Gatsi
ZIMBABWE’S disputed elections will likely throw spanners in the country’s efforts to re-join the Commonwealth with the United Kingdom House of Lords calling for its bid to be iced.
Zimbabwe held elections in August which have become a subject of interest in the region.
The elections were widely condemned by foreign election observers who said they failed to meet regional and international standards.
The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Tariq Ahmad, raising concern over Zimbabwe’s elections said any country wishing to join the Commonwealth should abide by its standards which include holding a credible plebiscite.
“Membership of the Commonwealth and its unique nature as an institution provide a real alternative to countries around the world. However, any country seeking to join must abide by standards, and, of course, that decision is ultimately for all members of the Commonwealth,” said Tariq Mahmood Ahmad.
Commonwealth is a bloc of former British colonies which Zimbabwe was part of until 2003 when the country pulled out under Robert Mugabe.
Since assuming power in 2017 President Emmerson Mnangagwa has made it his ambition to re-join the bloc.
The Commonwealth has set a plethora of conditions which among them hold credible general elections.
One of Commonwealth election observers, Denise Patricia Byrne, asked Ahmad whether on current grounds should Zimbabwe be readmitted into the fold.
“A lot of factors, many of which were also raised in 2018, led us to doubt the credibility of this election. Will the Minister agree that the ideal would be for Zimbabwe to re-enter the Commonwealth, but it can do so only when it meets the standards of proper democracy, the rule of law and free elections?” quizzed Bryne.
In response Ahmad said: “I agree with her. I commend her efforts, and those of all the observer missions, in observing the election. We hope that, ultimately, inclusive and pluralist democracies emerge, and that Zimbabwe can find its way back into the Commonwealth.”