Conclusions of the Meeting of the Committee
of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers on Zimbabwe, Abuja, Nigeria,
6 September 2001
1. The Meeting of the Committee of Commonwealth
Foreign Ministers on Zimbabwe met in Abuja on 6 September 2001
at the invitation of H E Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria. Ministers from Canada, Jamaica, Kenya, South
Africa, Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom, as well as the High Commissioner
for Australia to the United Kingdom, representing the Australian
Foreign Minister, and the Commonwealth Secretary General attended.
The Nigerian Foreign Minister, Sule Lamido, chaired the meeting.
2. The meeting recognised that as a result
of historical injustices, the current land ownership and distribution
needed to be rectified in a transparent and equitable manner.
It also agreed on the following:
(a) Land is at the core of the crisis in
Zimbabwe and cannot be separated from other issues of concern
to the Commonwealth, such as the rule of law, respect for human
rights, democracy and the economy. A program of land reform is,
therefore, crucial to the resolution of the problem.
(b) Such a programme of land reform must
be implemented in a fair, just and sustainable manner, in the
interest of all the people in Zimbabwe, within the law and constitution
(c) The crisis in Zimbabwe also has political
and rule of law implications, which must be addressed holistically
and concurrently. The situation in Zimbabwe poses a threat to
the socio-economic stability of the entire sub-region and the
continent at large.
(d) The need to avoid a division within the
Commonwealth, especially at the forthcoming CHOGM in Brisbane,
Australia, over the situation in Zimbabwe; and
(e) The orderly implementation of the land
reform can only be meaningful and sustainable, if carried out
with due regard to human rights, rule of law, transparency and
democratic principles. The commitment of the Government of Zimbabwe
is, therefore, crucial to this process.
3. The Committee recognises the need for
the adoption of confidence-building measures to ensure the implementation
of the conclusions of the meeting. In this regard, the meeting
welcomed the assurances given by the Zimbabwe delegation as follows:
(i) Commitment to the Harare Commonwealth
Declaration and the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme on
the Harare Declaration.
(ii) There will be no further occupation
of farm lands.
(iii) To speed up the process by which farms
that do not meet set criteria, are delisted.
(iv) For farms that are not designated, occupiers
would be moved to legally acquired lands.
(v) Acceleration of discussions with the
UNDP, with a view to reaching agreement as quickly as possible.
(vi) Commitment to restore the rule of law
to the process of land reform programme.
(vii) Commitment to freedom of expression
as guaranteed by the Constitution of Zimbabwe and to take firm
action against violence and intimidation; and
(viii) Invitation by the Foreign Minister
to the Committee to visit Zimbabwe.
4. The meeting agreed, in the overall context
of the statement, that the way forward is for Zimbabwe's international
(a) to engage constructively with the UNDP
and the Government of Zimbabwe in pursuing an effective and sustainable
land reform programme, on the basis of the UNDP proposals of December
(b) to respond positively to any request
from the Government of Zimbabwe in support of the electoral process;
(c) to continue to contribute to poverty
reduction programmes for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe,
and that those partners present (Australia,
Canada and United Kingdom), would actively pursue these objectives.
5. The Meeting also welcomed the re-affirmation
of the United Kingdom's commitment to a significant financial
contribution to such a land reform programme and its undertaking
to encourage other international donors to do the same.
6. The meeting expressed its profound gratitude
and appreciation to President Olusegun Obasanjo for his continuing
efforts at finding a durable solution to this problem. It also
expressed gratitude to the Chairman, Foreign Minister Sule Lamido,
for the excellent manner in which he conducted the proceedings.
Lastly, it expressed gratitude to the Government and people of
Nigeria for the hospitality and the conducive atmosphere provided
for the meeting. The spirit of camaraderie, informality, honesty
and forthrightness that was brought to bear on the proceedings
of the meeting, was also recognised as being consistent with the
best Commonwealth tradition.
7. Finally, the Committee agreed to convey
to President Obasanjo its willingness to hold further consultations,
if he so desires.
6 September 2001