Boris Johnson today held an ‘historic meeting’ meeting with his Zimbabwean counterpart which is expected to pave the way for the country’s return to the Commonwealth.
The Foreign Office said it ‘strongly supports’ Zimbabwe rejoining the group, which it was suspended from 16 years ago after Robert Mugabe rigged elections.
It comes after five months after Mugabe was ousted from power following 37 years of rule which saw corruption flourish, his political opponents imprisoned and the economy tank.
Mr Johnson today held a meeting on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit with Zimbabwe’s foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo.
Boris Johnson (pictured today with Zimbabwe’s delegation) at the Commonwealth summit with held an ‘historic meeting’ meeting with his Zimbabwean counterpart which is expected to pave the way for the country’s return to the Commonwealth
Boris Johnson (pictured today at the summit with his Zimbabwean counterpart Sibusiso Moyo sad he will support the country’s path to reform
In a statement afterwards Mr Johnson said: ‘President Mnangagwa has been in power for 150 days and while Zimbabwe has made impressive progress, there’s still much to do.
‘That’s why Britain, the Commonwealth and the wider international community will do everything it can in supporting Zimbabwe on its path of reform.
‘But we must remember democracies are not made in a day.
‘July’s election will be a bellwether for the direction of a new Zimbabwe.
‘The Zimbabwe Government must deliver the free and fair elections the people of Zimbabwe deserve and which it has promised.
‘The UK stands ready in friendship to support a Zimbabwe that fully embraces the rule of law, human rights and economic reform.’
His warm words come amid growing signs that the country will apply to rejoin the family of nations.
In a statement the Foreign Office hailed the ‘historic’ meeting between the two ministers which they said ‘ushers in a new era in UK-Zimbabwe relations and symbolises Zimbabwe’s commitment to engaging meaningfully with the international community’.
The Foreign Office added: ‘There is a great deal of interest in Zimbabwe applying to rejoin the Commonwealth after their election in July.
Boris Johnson (pictured with delegations from Africa ahead of his meeting with Zimbabwe today) and the Foreign Office say they ‘strongly support’ Zimbabwe rejoining the Commonwealth, which it was suspended from 16 years ago after Robert Mugabe rigged elections
Boris Johnson tweeted after the meeting about his plans to help Zimbabwe on its path to reform
‘Applying is a matter for the Zimbabwean people to decide.
‘Zimbabwe would have to formally apply to the Commonwealth Secretariat and the final decision would then be for all Commonwealth members.
‘However, 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.’
Mugabe was ousted from power in November last year after four decades of dictatorship.
He helped free his country from colonial rule but once in power his regime was characterised by corruption and economic decline.
He rigged elections and rounded up and imprisoned political opponents who spoke out against him.
While he oversaw the forced seizure of farms owned by white people and divied them up to his political supporters.
The policy was disastrous for the country, helping to fuel its sharp economic decline.