Britain announced today that it will support Zimbabwe’s re-entry into the commonwealth, 15 years after the Southern African country left the nations bloc. On Friday, the UK’s Foreign Office said in a statement that it would support President Emerson Mnangagwa’s bid to re-join the Commonwealth after they receive assurances that Zimbabwe will reform its political institutions.

“The UK would strongly support Zimbabwe’s re-entry and a new Zimbabwe that is committed to political and economic reform that works for all its people,” the statement said.

Mnangagwa, who replaced Robert Mugabe after he stepped down last year, is hoping to reattract investors to Zimbabwe. He announced at the recently concluded Africa CEO Forum that Zimbabwe is ready for investments. “Zimbabwe is now open for business,” he said. Re-entering the Commonwealth is perhaps the first step to getting investors into the country.

His predecessor, Robert Mugabe, ruled Zimbabwe for the better part of Zimbabwe’s post-independent years before he was forced to step down last year. After leading the fight for independence in Zimbabwe, and achieving it, Mugabe became the very essence of what he fought against; authoritarianism and holding on to power through violence. His economic policies led to record inflation in the country, eventually culminating in the abandonment of the Zimbabwean dollars for the US dollars in 2015.

It’s been 15 years since Mugabe decided to pull Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth after the country was indefinitely suspended from the body following election irregularities, vote rigging, and political persecution of opposition leaders at its presidential polls. Mugabe said at the time that “It’s (Zimbabwe) quits, quits will it be”, inferring that the country would never return.

Mnangagwa hopes to regain the trust of the International community this year with the same presidential polls. The presidential elections this year in the country will be the first without Robert Mugabe since its independence.

Mnangagwa has invited international election observers to monitor its presidential elections, releasing a list of poll observers earlier this month. “We want fair, free, credible elections… I would want that the United Nations should come, the EU should come… If the Commonwealth were requesting to come, I am disposed to consider their application,” Mnangagwa said.

That is a far departure from Mugabe’s days, who largely restricted election observers from getting into Zimbabwe. And a decision that will not go unnoticed by the international community. A free and fair election in Zimbabwe would equate to a political reform.

Consequently, this would translate to investor confidence in Zimbabwe, and probably start an economic resuscitation too.  “The UK stands ready in friendship to support a Zimbabwe that fully embraces the rule of law, human rights and economic reform,” Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.

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