Tsvangirai will seek resumed cooperation with the West

The visit, which will include a stop in Brussels, seat of the 27-nation European Union, will be Tsvangirai’s first major overseas mission since he became prime minister in February.

He is also scheduled to visit France, Britain and the United States around the end of June. The programme has not been published.

Tsvangirai who formed a unity government with long-time rival President Robert Mugabe, has urged international donors to resume full ties with his country, isolated for years because of concerns over human rights abuses under Mugabe.

"This trip by Tsvangirai should help in unblocking the dialogue at ministerial level as much as possible," EU Director General for Aid and Development Stefano Manservisi told Reuters in an interview.

"The political dialogue with the European Union has been relaunched at local level, and now, there will be a visit of Prime Minister Tsvangirai to Europe and to the U.S.," he said.

"He will be campaigning around to present the results of his government so far and the difficulties he is facing," he added.

The southern African country suffered economic implosion, pushing inflation to a record 231 million percent last year in June and leaving nine in ten people without a job. 

Most western countries have imposed sanctions, visa bans and asset freezes on individuals and companies linked to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, including jailing those who oppose Mugabe, and muzzling the media.

Before halting the sanctions and unblocking aid, most donor nations are waiting to see whether Mugabe is serious about sharing power with Tsvangirai in the unity government.

Manservisi said that though the situation in Zimbabwe was improving, the international community needed to see more.

"We are expecting that the programme of the government should be implemented. We expect the reform of the Central Bank as it is written in the programme they agreed among themselves, the governance of certain provinces and the respect of human rights and freedom," he said.

The Zimbabwe Prime is embarking on a three week long trip to the United States of America, Europe and Scandinavia, starting early next week. The Prime Minister’s spokesperson, James Maridadi, said the tour is part of his 100 day plan to re-engage with the international community, after years of isolation from western countries.

Maridadi said a high level delegation of government ministers from all three political parties will be traveling with the Prime Minister.

The spokesperson could not disclose the names of the officials traveling with the Prime Minister, saying these will be announced at the end of the week. However SW Radio Africa is reliably informed that the group includes ZANU PF Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, MDC-M Regional Integration and International Co-operation Minister Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga and Elton Mangoma, the MDC-T Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion.

ZANU PF Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengengwi and MDC-T Finance Minister Tendai Biti are expected to join the team in Brussels, although it is still not clear if Mumbengegwi will get a visa since he is on the European travel sanctions list. An MDC source, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said: “Obert Mpofu, ZANU PF’s Minister of Mines is supposed to join the group in the United Kingdom to address the Chamber of Mines in London from the 20th June, but it is highly unlikely he would get a visa because of the extreme corruption and looting of the mining sector by ZANU PF, including by the Minister himself.”

Scores of ZANU PF officials, including Robert Mugabe, were slapped with travel restrictions by western governments as a result of gross human rights abuses, electoral fraud and for plundering the economy.

On his first overseas trip Mr. Tsvangirai is expected to meet senior government officials to try to influence them to restore economic aid to the new government. Western governments have continued to provide humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe in the form of food aid, health services and for water sanitation.

But they have been hesitant to provide developmental aid or budgetary support directly to the new government, unconvinced that the MDC is being treated as an equal partner.

However, the MDC has been on a relentless campaign urging western powers to support the bankrupt unity government. The Finance minister warned recently: “If this experiment fails, we have no cheaper alternative, no cheaper option. I speak as one who knows. The only thing the struggle has not done to me is kill me. I can write a guide book on Zimbabwe prisons. If the west doesn’t come in, the price of undoing the mess will be much higher, like Liberia, Sierra Leone. Look at the cost of Somalia… how will anyone ever reconstruct Somalia?"

Analysts believe the Prime Minister is traveling to the USA and Europe to convince these countries that he is in charge and that his intentions are clear. But many observers warn that Mugabe is still clearly in charge and it would be a mistake to not recognize this fact.