The London-based Commonwealth Advisory Bureau has issued a report saying leaders of the group of mostly former British colonies must seize the opportunity for political action to support change and help Zimbabwe along the path to democracy.
The London-based independent policy adviser to the Commonwealth said Zimbabwe is unlikely to be rejoining the Commonwealth soon, but leaders must use the summit later this month to find ways of re-engaging Zimbabwe, especially by addressing and reducing sanctions against President Mugabe and scores of other top ZANU-PF officials.
The bureau has also encouraged Commonwealth leaders to help Zimbabwe overhaul its electoral register and election processes, and consider sponsoring an investment conference to help Zimbabwe attract investors to fuel economic recovery.
The bureau noted that Western targeted sanctions are a focal point of ZANU-PF propaganda, creating discord in the unity government in which the party of President Robert Mugabe shares power with the Movement for Democratic Change.
Zimbabwe withdrew from the 54 member group in 2003 and has continued to criticize Britain in particular along with other Western nations.
Commonwealth nations that continue to maintain targeted sanctions include Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Member South Africa has been working to facilitate implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement - President Jacob Zuma is mediator in Harare on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.
Commonwealth Advisory Bureau Senior Research Associate Richard Bourne argued that if lifting sanctions might lead ZANU-PF to fully implement the GPA, engaging Harare this way could move the democratic agenda. He added that ZANU-PF will be responsible with its governing partners to accelerate reform and hold free and fair elections.