By Zvamaida Murwira, in New York, USA
Commonwealth secretary-general, Mrs Patricia Scotland, has expressed satisfaction with Zimbabwe’s reforms and revealed after meeting President Mnangagwa yesterday that the process of re-admitting Harare back into the club was being “accelerated”.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces also held a separate meeting at the UN Headquarters with Norway Prime Minister, Mrs Erna Solberg aimed at deepening bilateral relations where they 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 leadership of the Zimbabwean leader. She said discussions she held with President Mnangagwa were meant to brainstorm 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 Commonwealth would be underpinned on the basis that they 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 that 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He said Zimbabwe had withdrawn from the Commonwealth over issues to do with the land reform programme which had since been a completed.
Before meeting Mrs Scotland, President Mnangagwa had met the Norwegian Prime Minister to discuss the two countries’ bilateral relations.
Briefing journalists soon after meeting Mrs Solberg, President Mnangagwa said their discussions centred on the impending investment by Oslo in energy in Harare.
“Relations between Zimbabwe and Norway are excellent. We were discussing issues about investment. I am sure you are aware that there is a company from Norway which is coming to invest in Zimbabwe in energy, coalbed methane gas so that we shall have electricity, about 1 000 MW, fertiliser 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.
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