Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe announced on 7 December that Zimbabwe was officially quitting the Commonwealth in response to that body’s decision (predictably spearheaded by the ‘white’ members – UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) to maintain Zimbabwe’s suspension, originally put in place after allegations of fraud and intimidation during the 2002 presidential election. He stated: “Anything that you agreed to on Zimbabwe which is short of this position [removal of Zimbabwe’s suspension] – no matter how sweetly worded – means Zimbabwe is still the subject of the Commonwealth … It is unacceptable. This is it. It [Zimbabwe] quits and quits it will be.” Comrade Didymus Mutasa, Secretary for External Affairs of ZANU-PF, commented: “Whatever our detractors and critics are saying, for us this is like an escape from hell because Britain and its white allies have turned the Commonwealth into a Zimbabwe lynching club.”
In our opinion this is a totally justified and correct (if anything belated) move by Zimbabwe. By its actions in suspending Zimbabwe, the Commonwealth – a non-treaty organisation composed primarily of former British colonies – has been attempting to interfere in the affairs of a sovereign state with a view to undermining the government, as has been correctly pointed out by comrade Mugabe.
The agenda here is obvious, and has been exposed many times in the past by Lalkar. For years the Commonwealth had no problem with Zimbabwe (a member since its independence in 1980) when it was going along with the economic diktat of its former colonisers. But as soon as the Zimbabwean people and government decided that they had had enough of British empty promises, as soon as they started actively taking land from the handful of tyrannical former colonisers and putting it in the hands of the ordinary African peasant, then alleged human rights abuses and unfair elections shot to the top of the Commonwealth’s agenda.
There is certain irony in talking of “human rights abuses” in Zimbabwe given the tyranny being imposed upon the population of Iraq at this very moment at the hands of the British and US armed forces; or in talking of the lack of “free and fair elections” bearing in mind that the governments of Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have said not a word about the patent election fraud that resulted in George W. Bush taking office in 2001. Such irony aside, it is clear that the stories of human rights abuses and unfair elections are nothing but tall stories perpetrated with the aim of discrediting the Zimbabwean government and preparing for an imperialist-backed coup. Even South African President Thabo Mbeki, who up until recently had been all too quiet on the issue of Zimbabwe, protested against the allegations made by the Commonwealth, remarking that the 2002 presidential election represented “the legitimate voice of the people of Zimbabwe” and reporting that South Africa’s observer teams had concluded that the elections were free and fair.
Zimbabwe’s departure from the Commonwealth will no doubt cause dismay to those who wish to see it under the thumb of imperialism once more. The Commonwealth is nothing but an instrument for Britain to maintain neo-colonial control over its former colonies. We hope that other countries will follow Zimbabwe’s lead and quit the Commonwealth without further delay.