By Patrick Guramatunhu- Rwanda is hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2022 next week, 20 to 25 June 2022. President Mnangagwa has, no doubt, been lobbying hard for Zimbabwe to be re-admitted to the Commonwealth.
The regime is notorious for spending millions of dollars on PR firms to spruce up its image even when country’s education and health care have 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 Commonwealth Election Observer Team report, like EU and many reports, gave detailed recommendation on what Zimbabwe should do to ensure future elections are free and fair.
Zanu PF has not implemented even one token reform since the rigged 2018 elections. The regime has stubbornly resisted all pressure to produce even something as basic as a verified voters’ roll.
Zanu PF is blatantly rigging the 2023 elections!
If this 2022 Rwanda CHOGM should decide to readmit Zimbabwe back into the Commonwealth it would be because the delegates had given up on Zimbabwe ever implementing the democratic reforms necessary for free, fair and credible elections. And so Zimbabwe’s elections will be measured against a one-foot long yard stick as contrast to the international accept three-foot long stick! This is exactly what SADC leaders have done!
Of 19 African countries in the Commonwealth, 11 of them are also in the SADC regional grouping. Wearing their Commonwealth cap, the 11 countries endorsed the Commonwealth Election Observer team’s report led by Ghana’s former president John Dramani Mahama.
“We note that important gains were made in these elections. However, the acute bias of the state media in favour of the governing party, persistent allegations of intimidation reported to the group, and the unfair use of incumbency privileges tilted the playing field in favour of the governing party (Zanu-PF),” stated the Mahama report.
“The post-election violence, which resulted in fatalities, and the behaviour of security forces marred this phase of elections. For these reasons, we are unable to endorse all aspects of the process as credible, inclusive, and peaceful.”
However, when the 11 were wearing their SADC caps, they endorsed the SADC team that concluded that the same election process was “substantially free, fair and credible!” This was only possible because SADC was judging the Zimbabwe elections against a lower standard to that 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 and condemned Zimbabwe’s flawed and illegal elections; Zanu PF lost political legitimacy and was forced to agree on the need to implement a raft of democratic reforms. A Government of National Unity (GNU) was tasked to implement the reforms.
Sadly, not even one reform was implemented in five years of the GNU. Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC, who were entrusted to implement the reforms turned out to be corrupt and breathtakingly incompetent. SADC leaders had nagged MDC to implement the reforms but to no avail.
SADC leaders had made one last minute bid to have Zimbabwe’s 2013 elections postponed until reforms were implemented. They told Tsvangirai and company, to their faces, “If you take part in next month’s elections, you will lose. The elections are done!”
As we know MDC leaders, once again, paid no heed and participated in the elections. Zanu PF blatantly rigged the elections and SADC leaders, no doubt in disgruntled despair at 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 banking on the 11 SADC nations to pressure CHOGM measure Zimbabwe’s adherence to democratic values using a one-foot long yard-stick and not the universally accepted three-foot long yard-stick because Zimbabwe has failed to implement even one reform even when the country had the golden opportunity to do so!
It would be very foolish, to say the least, for 2022 Rwanda CHOGM to readmit Zimbabwe into the Commonwealth for three reasons:
- Lowering the democratic standards that have served the Commonwealth nations well will start a race to the bottom because many leaders will want the same compromised standards applied to them too. Many Commonwealth countries, notably Rwanda and Uganda, have dictators who have failed to hold free, fair and credible elections. Readmit Zimbabwe and there will be a lot more dictators in the Commonwealth.
- There are many Zimbabweans who readily accept that the 2008 to 2013 GNU was a golden opportunity for Zimbabwe to implement the democratic reforms and they condemn the MDC leaders for selling out. The Zimbabweans who continue to support MDC/CCC’s idiotic folly of “winning rigged elections” do so out of ignorance and/or desperation. Every thinking Zimbabwean accepts it is insane to participate in flawed elections out of greed for the few gravy train seats offered as bait only to give Zanu PF legitimacy. They welcome another opportunity to implement the reforms and finally get the nation out of this hell-hole.
- If Zimbabwe was readmitted, the Commonwealth will render the organisation’s own democratic standards and values irrelevant and embolden 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 entourage of corrupt incompetent and utterly useless opposition. Zimbabwe must not be readmitted to the Commonwealth until it implements the democratic reforms and uphold the internationally recognised democratic standards and values. That, surely, is not too much to ask!