UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said it would be possible for Zimbabwe to rejoin the Commonwealth since Robert Mugabe’s deposition, in response to questions from a parliamentary colleague, according to the Telegraph
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said it would be possible for Zimbabwe to rejoin the Commonwealth since Robert Mugabe’s deposition, in response to questions from a parliamentary colleague, according to the Telegraph.
Conservative MP Sir Hugo Swire asked Johnson in a meeting of Parliament on November 21, 2017 if he thought that the ex-Commonwealth country could be rehabilitated into the network and wider international community.
The Foreign Secretary replied that whilst it was an honourable aspiration for both the African country and the Commonwealth, Zimbabwe must hold a free and fair election in 2018 in order for them to be able to apply to the Commonwealth Secretariat for membership.
Zimbabwe was suspended from Commonwealth councils in March 2002 after politically-motivated violence and electoral fraud occurred during Mugabe’s re-election as President.
Mugabe ruled for 37 years following his election as Prime Minister in 1980, after the country’s declaration of Independence and Mugabe’s victory as leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union Political Front (ZANU-PF), and his later election as President in 1987.
Originally seen as a war hero and revolutionary by his supporters, he gradually became known as a dictator responsible for corruption, discrimination, suppression against political and media expression, human rights abuses and economic difficulties.
The Zimbabwean army carried out a coup against Mugabe, beginning on November 14, 2017, following the President’s sacking of Emmerson Mnangagwa, his Vice President and expected successor, who subsequently fled the country.
This dismissal is believed to have been a result of Mugabe’s wife, Grace, influencing her 93 year old husband to set her up for succession to the presidency instead.
The couple is widely accused of living an extravagant lifestyle whilst the majority of the country suffers from 90% unemployment and under-developed infrastructure and services.
Mugabe originally refused to step down, despite widespread condemnation and mass protests across the country.
As impeachment proceedings began on November 21, 2017, however, he offered his resignation to the Zimbabwean parliament.
Zimbabweans celebrated his disposition and believe it signals the start of a more peaceful and prosperous age for the country, though many hold reservations over the succession of Mugabe’s former ally, Mnangagwa.
Boris Johnson said: “My honourable friend sets out what I think would be an honourable and noble aspiration for the Commonwealth and Zimbabwe but I must caution there are several steps that need to be gone through before that can happen.”