Zimbabwe has applied to re-join the Commonwealth and invited observers to attend its general elections, a move which is seen as a major step towards re-engaging with the international community. Under former leader Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe left the voluntary grouping of mostly former British colonies in 2003.
The Commonwealth confirmed that Zimbabwe President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, officially applied for his country to re-join the Commonwealth almost 15 years after it left, in a letter, also inviting Commonwealth members to observe the national elections scheduled for July.
The presidential, parliamentary and council elections will be the southern African nation’s first big democratic test.
In order to become a member of the Commonwealth, Zimbabwe must show that it adheres to the group’s core values including democracy and rule of law as well as the protection of human rights including freedom of expression, the group said in a statement.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said in a statement that the member states “very much look forward to Zimbabwe’s return when the conditions are right.”
“Zimbabwe’s eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history,” Scotland said.
The membership application process includes an informal assessment of the situation in Zimbabwe as well as consultations with other member states.
If its application were to be accepted, Zimbabwe would be the fifth country to re-join the Commonwealth. The group is currently comprised of 53 countries, mainly former British colonies, representing 2.4 billion people.
Benefits of commonwealth countries for their citizens?
As a broad overview of benefits please see below:
The Commonwealth is a voluntary, intergovernmental organisation that seeks to promote mutual understanding, friendship and trade. Therefore, there are a number of benefits. It comprises of countries that were once British colonies and that share a heritage of British law and government. The term is also used to mean a community in general.
Though defence treaties relating to Commonwealth countries are few and far between, most members would seek to protect each other in a crisis. Tuvalu, one of the smallest members of the Commonwealth, would not be invaded without New Zealand, the United Kingdom and other major members of the Commonwealth raising concern and, if necessary, military action. Small Commonwealth members, with small or non-existent armies, avail most from this unofficial pact between the members of the Commonwealth. Each country is keen to build a national image and promote democracy, the English language and identity – and so will always try to protect their ‘relatives’
In the United Kingdom, citizens of Commonwealth countries retain the right to vote in General Elections and a number of local elections. Commonwealth citizens can have their say and their opinion will be appreciated.
The Commonwealth Games are held every four years in a Commonwealth member country; they add extra tourism and economy to the country.
The commonwealth of nation has helped to improve trading activities among nations by common tariffs on goods. They ensure safe guidelines and better terms of delivery e.g. ensuring a better ship and cargoes.