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Commonwealth speeds up Zim readmission

Commonwealth secretary-general Mrs Patricia Scotland has expressed satisfaction with Zimbabwe’s reforms and revealed after meeting President Mnangagwa yesterday that the process of readmitting Harare into the Club was being “accelerated”.

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) also held a separate meeting at the United Nations Headquarters with Norwegian Prime Minister Mrs Erna Solberg.

The meeting sought to deepen bilateral relations and explored areas in which the Scandinavian country could invest in Zimbabwe.

Both meetings were held on the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 74), which several Heads of State and Government that include President Mnangagwa, are attending.

In an interview soon after meeting President Mnangagwa, Mrs Scotland said the Commonwealth had noted reforms that Zimbabwe had embarked upon under the new dispensation.

She said her discussions with President Mnangagwa brainstormed on how Zimbabwe’s return to the Commonwealth could be expedited.

“We had a very good discussion. We were looking at issues that were still outstanding, you know there is a process and the process is underway. It is by no means complete; there are really interesting areas that we will continue to discuss. It was really a good meeting,” said Mrs Scotland.

“There is no case of postponing. What happens is the Commonwealth has laid down a process that any applicant has to go through. It is that process that is being accelerated as quickly as possible. If you look at our process, it is step-by-step. Zimbabwe is going through all those steps just like any other country. I think there are a number of areas where Zimbabwe has made real reforms. No one is perfect and it is a journey.”

In July, the UN and Britain hailed legislative, economic and media reforms Harare is undertaking, giving impetus to ongoing re-engagement efforts.

Last weekend, President Mnangagwa said the quest to return to the Commonwealth would be underpinned on the basis that the country had not been expelled from the Club of former British colonies.

Addressing Zanu-PF supporters from Canada and the US, President Mnangagwa said it was high time Zimbabwe rejoined the Commonwealth since the reason that led to Harare withdrawing was now behind it.

He said Zimbabwe had withdrawn from the Commonwealth over issues to do with the Land Reform Programme which had since been completed.

Before meeting Mrs Scotland, the President met the Norwegian Prime Minister to discuss bilateral relations.

Briefing journalists after meeting Mrs Solberg, President Mnangagwa said their discussions centred on the impending investment by Oslo in Harare in energy.

“Relations between Zimbabwe and Norway are excellent. We were discussing about issues about investment. I am sure you are aware that there is a company from Norway which coming to invest in Zimbabwe in energy, coalbed methane gas so that we shall have electricity, about 1 000 MW, and also fertilizer and also water because as you go down to get methane gas there is a lot of water, they are planning to use that water in a dump,” said President Mnangagwa.

Mrs Solberg described her meeting with President Mnangagwa as positive.

“We held quite interesting discussions with the President. I also told him that I visited Zimbabwe when I was a young student, we indeed had a successful meeting,” said Mrs Solberg.

President Mnangagwa is expected to hold several other bilateral meetings that include global media gurus and is expected to address the General Assembly today.