Club membership not one-sided


AS Zimbabwe moots rejoining the Commonwealth, it must be noted this is not out of desperation, but a recognition of the virtues of re-engagement and restoration of broken ties.
Zimbabwe voluntarily pulled out of the Commonwealth in 2003.
For when the country disengaged from the club led by the British monarch, the chasm with Whitehall widened significantly.
Of course, losing ties with a group that looked upon itself as a family as it shared ideas and trade relations has its own disadvantages.
Indeed, Zimbabwe recognises the role played by the Commonwealth assisting the county get its independence and become a member of the Club.
Of note is the Commonwealth Lusaka Conference of 1979, which forced Margret Thatcher to abandon her plans to recognise Bishop Abel Muzorewa.
The Lancaster House Agreement bears testimony to this.
No doubt, an additional Commonwealth member was a source of joy for the British.
So with everything being equal, there would have been no way the UK would have been happy to see the Club membership shrink.
And looking at the pros and cons, Whitehall was bound to lose more with the withdrawal of Zimbabwe.
However, anger over the Land Reform Programme would see the UK prepared to cut its nose to spite its face.
The extent to which the UK was prepared to harm its own interests, regardless, was quite distinct after Zimbabwe was suspended from the Club in 2002
And when Zimbabwe co-hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup with South Africa, the UK would have none of it.
Instead of avoiding mixing politics with sport, England snubbed a fixture it was scheduled to face Zimbabwe at home.
Zimbabwe were awarded the game by default.
What is paradoxical about the refusal of the British to set foot on Zimbabwe is that this is the very country with an area they at one time baptised ‘Little England’.
This is because of the similarity of the weather in Nyanga with that of England.
Generally, the British are at home with our weather.
That a number of suburbs were named after places in England further shows the extent to which the British were attached to a former colony they were now regarding as a Club ‘misfit’.
No wonder the head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth, recently pointed out that her top wish was to see Zimbabwe rejoin the Commonwealth.
No doubt, the 92-year old monarch still has nostalgic memories of October 1991 when she visited Zimbabwe when Harare was hosting a Heads of Government Commonwealth meeting.
But the value of Zimbabwe to Britain is not for sentimental reasons only.
As a Commonwealth trading partner, Britain has much to benefit from Zimbabwe, with its array of natural resources and good soils.
There is something about Zimbabwe’s climate and soil which makes their farm produce exceptionally tasty.
Zimbabwe’s vegetables and beef were, at one time, much sought after on the British markets.
At a time the Zimbabwe war cry on inviting investors for business is at its peak, Britain could use its position as a Commonwealth partner to advantage.
Britain is also aware of the strategic minerals available in Zimbabwe, which makes the former British colony a very attractive Commonwealth partner.
With Brexit, Commonwealth countries are soon likely to replace the EU as Britain’s’ major trading partners.
That is why Britain is eager to accept Zimbabwe back into the Commonwealth fold.


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