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Zimbabwean Ministerial Task Force Targets Europe First for Charm Offensive

Having pledged to re-engage the international community, the Zimbabwe government has set up a mechanism to end Harare’s isolation, critical to the country’s economic turnaround, led by a multi-party ministerial task force under Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwe, said Finance Minister Tendai Biti in an interview with VOA on Tuesday.

The strategy according to Biti enlists fellow members of the Southern African Development Community to help persuade the West that real change is afoot in Harare.

Biti represents Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s formation of the Movement for Democratic Change in the task force, while the Arthur Mutambara MDC formation will be represented by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube and Regional Integration Minister Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga. Mumbengegwe belongs to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to the office of the prime minister, told VOA that the task force will travel on its first mission to the European Union, some of whose members are believed to be receptive to the idea of providing early reconstruction funding.

But Britain, like the United States, has said it wants to see more progress in Harare on key issues, particularly human rights, before moving beyond humanitarian assistance.

Zimbabwean Ambassador to Great Britain Gabriel Machinga met last week with Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who later told the House of Commons that in their conversation he reiterated London’s position that economic aid hinges on major changes in Harare.

Finance Minister Biti told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the ministerial committee will focus on governance and economic recovery.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...