The Commonwealth has started the assessment of Zimbabwe's fitness to rejoin the grouping with a seven-member team arriving in the country for pre-election observation, the Zimbabwean government has said.
Head of the Africa, Governance, and Peace Directorate Yvonne Mensah is leading the team, which arrived early Monday morning and will be in the country until Thursday.
The visit follows Zimbabwe's notification to the grouping of mainly former British colonies that it wanted to rejoin it after having left in 2003 following disputes over governance issues.
Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland recently said that the country should demonstrate that it complied with the fundamental values set out in the Commonwealth Charter.
These included democracy and the rule of law plus the protection of human rights such as freedom of expression.
She said following an invitation by Zimbabwe to observe elections to be held on July 30, observations made during the period would form part of her informal assessment of the country's fitness to rejoin.
Zimbabwe's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo told journalists after meeting the team on Monday that Zimbabwe's re-admission would likely be decided at the end of the year.
He said the formal application to rejoin would be made after the Commonwealth decision had been taken.
"Zimbabwe has indicated it wants to rejoin the grouping and it is within this context that the group has come to observe after we extended an invitation for them to come and observe our elections," he said.