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Zanu-PF Remains Skeptical as West Re-engages Zimbabwe

  • Blessing  Zulu

U.S Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton
While relations between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and western powers remain uneasy, Tuesday saw the resumption of direct talks between Zimbabwe and the international community.

Three ministers from the inclusive government were in London to meet with western diplomats - the so-called friends of Zimbabwe - and financial leaders in a fresh bid to break the ice ahead of elections expected sometime this year.

Relations between Zimbabwe and many western nations deteriorated after the West imposed what they called targeted sanctions on Mr. Mugabe, his inner circle, and related firms over alleged human rights abuses.

The successful constitutional referendum earlier this month prompted the European Union to ease its targeted sanctions, and now the West says it will do the same if Zimbabwe holds peaceful, transparent and credible elections later this year.

African and European diplomatic sources said the time is ripe for the West to look beyond President Mugabe and engage other Zanu-PF leaders in Harare.

The Royal Institute of International Affairs Chatham House hosted Tuesday’s event, saying the dialogue was aimed at discussing the way forward for the country, including the road to polls and prospects for Zimbabwe beyond the poll.

US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, said relations between Zimbabwe and the U.S have thawed significantly.

Zanu-PF has expressed cautious optimism. Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said his party welcomes dialogue, but hopes it is sincere.