CA works with Zimbabwean people

The Commonwealth Association (CA) has been very active in Commonwealth priority areas. It has, for example, been forthright on Zimbabwe’s current plight and its possible return to Commonwealth membership, as well as in helping provide practical assistance for its people. It has also been prominent in pressing for the reform of the Commonwealth, including the adoption of the Commonwealth Charter. 

Work on the Zimbabwean issue began shortly after the country left the Commonwealth in 2003. Initially, the CA was among a number of Commonwealth organisations that helped perpetuate people-to-people links and provide practical assistance and expertise to a number of Zimbabwe’s non-governmental sectors. But the CA also worked at the political level to encourage Commonwealth support for Zimbabwe’s recovery, both economically and as a functioning democracy. 

Working with the Royal Commonwealth Society, the CA helped bring the then opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Uganda. A major rally was organised to focus attention on Zimbabwe. Two years later, at the 2009 Trinidad and Tobago CHOGM, a CA delegation helped draft the statement in the Commonwealth People’s Forum, and CHOGM itself, which looked forward to Zimbabwe’s return to Commonwealth membership. 

The CA works in a number of other ways to maintain support for the Commonwealth. It has launched an oral history project with the objective of building an archive of the many developmental, political and other initiatives, big and small, undertaken over the years by its members. These personal stories are told by the former staff themselves, drawing from their memories of various organisations. 

The idea grew from a desire to preserve the Commonwealth’s institutional memory, with a list of papers, publications and memoirs already being compiled. Recordings and written submissions are also being prepared, with the aim of making ‘history’ available online, not least in marking the 50th anniversary of the Secretariat and Foundation in 2015. 

Members of the CA support the Secretariat directly, as volunteers in the visitor centre or as tour guides for Marlborough House, and assist other Commonwealth organisations, when approached. 

The CA has organised a number of conferences and other events, usually in partnership with others. A notable seminar on Commonwealth reform was held prior to the 2011 Perth CHOGM. In all these ways, the CA takes pride in its active membership of the Commonwealth ‘family’.


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