Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa meets Commonwealth secretary-general on re-integration

Emmerson Mnangagwa
Emmerson Mnangagwa

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday held talks with Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland as the country presses ahead with efforts to re-integrate itself into the global family of nations after two decades of isolation.

Zimbabwe pulled out of the Commonwealth, a 53-nation group of mainly former British colonies, in 2002 after sharp differences with London over its land reforms.

Britain strongly opposed the reforms, under which excess white-owned farmland was compulsorily acquired to resettle landless blacks, and led an international campaign to diplomatically isolate its former colony in a bid to force the southern African country to relent on the issue.

Zimbabwe stuck to its guns, and pressed ahead with the land reform program. But shortly after taking office in 2017, Mnangagwa made overtures to the country’s friends and foes alike, including the Commonwealth, with an offer to re-open a new page in relations.

It sought to re-join the Commonwealth, and Monday’s talks between Mnangagwa and Scotland – on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York – are part of the re-admission process.

After the talks, the Commonwealth chief said the negotiations were proceeding smoothly, and expressed optimism that the country could re-join the club soon, state news agency New Ziana reported Tuesday.

Before withdrawing, Zimbabwe was one of the Commonwealth’s key members in Africa, and hosted its summit in 1991.

“We had a very good discussion. We were looking at the issues that are still outstanding. There is a process and the process is underway, it is by no means complete. There are some really interesting areas which we are going to continue to discuss. It was a good meeting,” Scotland said.

She said the Commonwealth has a laid down process which every applicant has to go through.

“So this is a process which is being accelerated as quickly as possible. If you look at our process, it is a step by step and Zimbabwe is going through all the steps just like any other country,” she Scotland said.

She said there are a number of areas where Zimbabwe has made real reforms. Enditem

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