12 December 2003
Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon has received an official letter dated 11 December 2003 from the Government of Zimbabwe, signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr I S G Mudenge, confirming that Zimbabwe has terminated its membership of the Commonwealth with effect from 7 December 2003.
The letter requested that the Secretary-General circulate it to all members of the Commonwealth. This will be done.
Responding to Zimbabwe's decision, Mr McKinnon said today:
"It is disappointing that the Government of Zimbabwe has taken this step. All members will be saddened by it. I hope that Zimbabwe will wish to return in due course, as have other members in the past. In line with the CHOGM Statement on Zimbabwe earlier this week, members of the Commonwealth will continue to seek to engage Zimbabwe to promote national reconciliation and facilitate its return to the Commonwealth.
"Meanwhile in the light of Zimbabwe's withdrawal, Zimbabwe becomes a non-member state and is no longer eligible to receive Commonwealth assistance or to attend Commonwealth meetings. Commonwealth organisations should treat Zimbabwe as a non-member state."
Note to Editors
One consequence of Zimbabwe's decision to leave the Commonwealth is that a Commonwealth country's High Commission in Zimbabwe becomes an Embassy, with its High Commissioner now being designated an Ambassador. Equally, Zimbabwe's High Commissions become Embassies and their High Commissioners are now designated Ambassadors.
Emblematic representations such as flags are removed from Commonwealth materials, premises and meetings.