Rwanda is hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2022 next week, June 20-25, 2022. President Mnangagwa has no doubt pushed for Zimbabwe to be readmitted to the Commonwealth. The regime is known to have spent millions of dollars on public relations ventures to spruce up its image, even as the country’s education and health care collapsed for lack of funds.
Zimbabwe’s readmission application was rejected following the country’s failure to hold free, fair and credible elections in 2018. The report by the Commonwealth Election Observation Team, like the EU and numerous reports, gave detailed recommendations on what Zimbabwe should do to ensure future elections are free and fair.
Zanu PF has not implemented a single token reform since the rigged 2018 elections. The regime has stubbornly resisted all pressure to produce even something as basic as a verified voters list.
Zanu PF is blatantly rigging the 2023 election!
If this Rwandan CHOGM of 2022 were to decide to readmit Zimbabwe back to the Commonwealth, it would be because the delegates had given up on Zimbabwe implementing the democratic reforms necessary for free, fair and credible elections. And so Zimbabwe’s elections will be measured against a one meter long stick, unlike the international which accepts a three foot stick! This is exactly what SADC leaders have done!
Of the 19 African Commonwealth countries, 11 of them are also part of the SADC regional grouping. Wearing their Commonwealth hats, the 11 countries endorsed the report by the Commonwealth Election Observer Team led by former Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama.
“We note that significant gains were made in these elections. However, the state media’s acute bias in favor of the ruling party, the persistent allegations of intimidation reported to the group, and the unfair use of the privileges of incumbent tipped the scales in favor of the ruling party (Zanu-PF),” the Mahama report said.
“Post-election violence, which resulted in deaths, and the behavior of security forces have marred this phase of the elections. For these reasons, we are unable to endorse all aspects of the process as credible, inclusive and peaceful.”
However, when the 11 wore their SADC hats, they endorsed the SADC team which concluded that the same electoral process was “essentially free, fair and credible!” This was only possible because the SADC was judging the elections in Zimbabwe against a lower standard than the Commonwealth team was using.
Of course, President Mnangagwa was eternally grateful to SADC leaders for their political endorsement and legitimacy.
The only time, in 2008, when SADC leaders joined the rest of the international community in condemning Zimbabwe’s irregular and illegal elections; The Zanu PF lost its political legitimacy and was forced to agree on the need to implement a series of democratic reforms. A Government of National Unity (GNU) was tasked with implementing the reforms.
Unfortunately, not a single reform has been implemented in five years of GNU. Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC, responsible for implementing the reforms, have proven to be corrupt and breathtakingly incompetent. SADC leaders had harassed the MDC to implement the reforms, but to no avail.
SADC leaders had made a last-minute offer to postpone the 2013 elections in Zimbabwe until reforms were implemented. They said face to face to Tsvangirai and company: “If you participate in the elections next month, you will lose. The elections are over!
As we know, the MDC leaders, once again, did not pay attention and participated in the elections. The Zanu PF blatantly rigged the elections and SADC leaders, no doubt in desperation unhappy with the MDC’s betrayal, turned a blind eye to the rigging and endorsed the process as “substantially free, fair and credible”. “giving Zanu PF legitimacy.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is counting on the 11 SADC countries to pressure CHOGM to measure Zimbabwe’s adherence to democratic values using a one foot long measure and not the universally accepted three foot long measure because that Zimbabwe has not even implemented a single reform. when the country had the golden opportunity to do so!
It would be foolish, to say the least, for 2022 Rwanda CHOGM to readmit Zimbabwe back into the Commonwealth for three reasons:
a) Lowering the democratic standards that have served Commonwealth nations well will trigger a race to the bottom, as many leaders will want the same compromised standards applied to them as well. Many Commonwealth countries, including Rwanda and Uganda, have dictators who have failed to organize free, fair and credible elections. Readmit Zimbabwe again and there will be many more dictators in the Commonwealth.
b) Many Zimbabweans readily accept that the GNU from 2008 to 2013 was a golden opportunity for Zimbabwe to implement democratic reforms and they condemn the MDC leaders for selling out. Zimbabweans who continue to support the MDC/CCC’s foolish madness to “win rigged elections” do so out of ignorance and/or desperation. Every thinking Zimbabwean accepts that it is foolish to participate in flawed elections out of greed for the few gravy train seats offered as bait only to give legitimacy to Zanu PF. They are looking forward to another opportunity to implement the reforms and finally get the nation out of this hellhole.
c) If Zimbabwe were readmitted, the Commonwealth would render the organisation’s own democratic norms and values irrelevant and encourage Zanu PF to rig the 2023 and future elections. 2022 Rwanda CHOGM will have condemned Zimbabwe to the corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship aided by the incompetent and utterly useless corrupt opposition entourage. Zimbabwe should not be readmitted to the Commonwealth until it implements democratic reforms and adheres to internationally recognized democratic standards and values. Surely that’s not too much to ask!
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