Prominent Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono says the Commonwealth group should readmit Zimbabwe as a member for the benefit of the generality of its citizenry but doing so without conditions will be “catastrophic.”
Posting on his Facebook page after meeting the Commonwealth Secretariat visiting team to Zimbabwe led by Professor Luis Franceschi on Monday, Chin’ono said Zimbabweans will derive numerous benefits from Commonwealth membership.
He, however, highlighted that there must be reform benchmarks to which Zimbabwe’s admission must be tied to, such as the release of all political prisoners including CCC deputy national chairman Job Sikhala. Wrote Chin’ono:
Today I was invited to meet with the Commonwealth Secretariat visiting team to Zimbabwe led by Professor Luis Franceschi.
I started by telling them that my life was turned around through a 2 year Commonwealth Visa that allowed me and many others to work in Britain.
I added that this is 1 of many Commonwealth benefits to ordinary Zimbabweans that were denied to them when ZANUPF petulantly and arbitrarily pulled the country out of the Commonwealth simply because it didn’t want to adhere to its constitutional prescriptions of the Rule of Law.
I explained to them that the withdrawal from the Commonwealth affected ordinary Zimbabweans the most than it affected ZANU-PF, whose only and main issue then and now remains a bruised ego and political propaganda if Zimbabwe was readmitted today or in the near future.
I explained that like Targeted Sanctions, the withdrawal from the Commonwealth was used as a crude propaganda tool, and that ZANUPF has never looked at the consequences to the ordinary Zimbabweans who benefited from things like Commonwealth higher education scholarships and jobs.
I also added that based on the Rule of Law and abuse of institutions, things have gotten worse after Mugabe’s removal using many cases including that of Job Sikhala, Nyatsime 16 and the routine arrests and jailing of journalists for reporting and exposing corruption.
I however added that there is nothing to be gained from shutting the door against Zimbabwe as a country of over 15 million in order to punish an incorrigible political party, ZANUPF, and its regime in power.
I added that dialogue remains the only viable option on the table.
I suggested that there must be reform benchmarks to which Zimbabwe’s admission must be tied to, like the release of all political prisoners, and dropping of ALL trumped up charges against the political opposition and Government critics.
This will measure ZANUPF’s sincerity.
I also said that the Commonwealth should be a global family of nations with certain inalienable rights afforded to Commonwealth citizens like the Rule of Law, Human Rights and a right to life through working healthcare systems if its existence is going to be meaningful at all.
I went to this meeting aware that my voice is not only mine, but that it represents millions of Zimbabweans who can’t speak for themselves.
As such, I made this meeting about issues, instead of endlessly talking about my personal persecution. I only used it as an example!
Over and above other issues discussed that will remain off the record, I said that I was not opposed to the re-admission of Zimbabwe into the Commonwealth.
Doing so as a recipient of Commonwealth arrangements would be no different to kicking the ladder to stop others climbing.
Zimbabwe is better for Zimbabweans when it is held up against a certain value system and standards than being in a jungle as we have been under the current regime.
A choice between ZANUPF using re-admission for propaganda whilst citizens benefit or staying out is a no-brainer.
There are draconian bills in parliament like the PVO, Patriotic Act bill and pending electoral reforms, these should be a good starting point for the Commonwealth to see ZANUPF’s sincerity.
An unconditional readmission would be catastrophic for the Commonwealth’s standing.
I, therefore, hope that Zimbabwe will be readmitted into the Commonwealth and that this will help Zimbabwe as a country to have access to a market of more than 2.5 billion Commonwealth citizens.
Political parties come and go, but Zimbabwe will remain!