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Zimbabwe Government Including MDC Urges West to Lift Company Sanctions

The Harare government has adopted a phased approach in seeking the lifting of Western sanctions, first asking multilateral financial institutions to restore voting rights, then asking governments to lift sanctions against companies, only then seeking relief on individual sanctions

Zimbabwe's unity government with the full cooperation of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is lobbying the European Union, the United States and multilateral financial institutions to lift restrictions imposed on 40 companies, including key state-controlled enterprises, citing the need to revive the nation's economy.

A senior Tsvangirai MDC official told VOA Studio 7 that this is a gesture of good faith towards President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF which has insisted the former opposition party must campaign for sanctions to be lifted, though the MDC has maintained it is not responsible for the sanctions.

The official said the unity parties have agreed to break the so-called targeted sanctions into three parts, approaching the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund first. The governing parties have asked the World Bank and IMF to restore Zimbabwe’s voting rights. Government sources expressed optimism that the voting rights could be restored in early 2010.

The second category refers to sanctions affecting state-controlled companies and firms like Zimbabwe Defense Industries, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, ZimBank and the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company or ZISCO.

The third category includes travel and financial sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and other top ZANU-PF officials and supporters.

The MDC official said it will be left to ZANU-PF to prove to the West that it has embraced reform so that the measures barring its leadership from traveling to many Western countries may be lifted. He said the negotiators main concern is to lift restrictions that will slow the country's economic turnaround.

Despite such reports, Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said that the party's official position has not changed – that is, that the MDC does not accept responsibility for the imposition or the lifting of the sanctions.

The European Union has said it will consider lifting the sanctions if the terms of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing is fully implemented.

The United States has made the provision of development assistance contingent on fulfillment of the GPA, but has not spelled out what it will take for sanctions to be lifted though Washington has made clear that it wants to see serious reforms on human rights and the rule of law in particular.