The Official Goodbye

Article excerpt

On 11 December, Zimbabwe's foreign minister, Stanley G. Mudenge (photo below), officially wrote to the Commonwealth secretary general, Don McKinnon, terminating Zimbabwe's membership of the Commonwealth. For the record, we publish the letter in full.

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"I am writing to convey to you the decision of the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe to terminate its membership of the Commonwealth as of 7 December 2003. Once again, for the record, Zimbabwe reiterates its principled position as stated in my statement of 20 March 2002 following the Troika's Marlborough House decision of 19 March 2002, and later extensively developed in the Zimbabwe government document of November 2002 entitled, The Commonwealth and the Zimbabwe Presidential Election 2002.

In these two documents, which were circulated to members of the Commonwealth, Zimbabwe argues that the conclusions of the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) Report which formed the basis of the decision by the Troika were fundamentally flawed.

And your own role, Mr Secretary General, in constituting a COG team loaded with persons of well-known anti-Zimbabwe government disposition, some of them having openly declared their biased views just before joining the COG team (for example, Mr Kevin Rudd from Australia), must surely bear a heavy responsibility for the shameful scandal called the COG Report and the debacle that ensued.

The procedures outlined in the report of the High Level Review Group adopted by CHOGM in Coolum, Australia in 2002, were largely disregarded. Contrary to those procedures as well as the universally acknowledged principle of natural justice, Zimbabwe was denied the right to be heard and to answer allegations in the COG Report, before punitive action was taken against it.

As custodian of the rules and procedures of the Commonwealth, you, Mr Secretary General, failed in your duty to advise and guide the Troika leaders in executing their onerous responsibility in accordance with agreed rules and procedures of the Club.

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Following the majority decision by the Troika (namely Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo) to end the suspension of Zimbabwe after the lapse of the suspension period, we were astounded by your own conduct Mr Secretary General.

First, you took the view that there was no consensus in the Troika to lift the suspension when in fact what was called for was a consensus to continue with the suspension. …