THE European Union and Britain are preparing to lift the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
The sanctions also target senior Government and Zanu-PF officials and some business entities in the country.
The EU Commission's resolutions are expected to be made public in Brussels this month-end.
While there are mixed reactions to the latest development, Zimbabwe has been calling for the unconditional lifting of the sanctions as they were never justified.
Regional trading bloc, Sadc, the African Union, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa as well as members of the progressive world have also been calling for the unconditional removal of the sanctions.
Close sources said the 27-member EU bloc recently agreed in principle to lift the embargo but details were "deliberately" leaked to the British media.
"The EU council meeting resolved to suspend the illegal sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe.
"However, we are reliably informed they agreed to reinstate them depending on whether they are satisfied with the outcome of the referendum and harmonised elections."
Zimbabwe will hold a referendum soon after the completion of the Constitution-making process.
British newspaper, The Telegraph yesterday reported that Britain and the EU were planning to lift sanctions on President Mugabe and some Government officials.
The paper, however, argued that the West wanted to persuade President Mugabe "to hold free and fair elections".
The sanctions were imposed in 2002 as Britain and its Western allies protested against the country's land reform programme which benefited more than 300 000 landless Zimbabweans.
Quoting some unnamed European official sources, the Telegraph said there was now an agreement to bring Zimbabwe back in from "the cold but only if new conditions are met".
European diplomats also told the media that Britain could be concerned that maintaining the embargo would affect its access to Zimbabwe's vast mineral resources.
The East has been making headway in getting lucrative deals as Government embarked on a successful Look East policy.
Quoting the officials, the Telegraph said: "We know that British interests and priorities are important here and cannot be overridden. We are working out a compromise that will see the EU use its influence positively while making the measures conditional."
A British Foreign Office spokesman said circumstances in Zimbabwe had changed since sanctions were put under review this year.
"Since these measures were last reviewed in February we have heard a number of calls, including from the MDC-T and their partners in the inclusive Government, for us to show flexibility in order to support the process of reform."
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is the Zanu-PF negotiator and member of Government's re-engagement team, said he would comment after the EU made its final statement on the embargoes. "We will only comment after the EU issues a formal statement," he said.
MDC secretary general Mrs Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga said the re-engagement committee called for the unconditional lifting of sanctions during their Brussels meeting in May this year. She, however, welcomed the EU position.
"For us it is just a matter of terminology because even if they say they are suspending them or they are removing them unconditionally, the message is just the same, Zimbabwe will no longer be under sanctions," she said.
MDC-T negotiator, Mr Elton Mangoma, said Zimbabwe's position regarding the sanctions was very clear.
He said the re-engagement team issued a statement after their meeting in Brussels confirming that the sanctions should be removed unconditionally.
"There is nothing that has been written to me so I cannot comment," he said.
Zanu-PF Politburo member and Tsholotsho North Member of Parliament Professor Jonathan Moyo said there was nothing to celebrate on the intended EU actions as long as the US sanctions remained in place.
He said the US' Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act and the EU sanctions were imposed to save the same purpose.
"It's surprising that some members of the MDC formations are already being quoted praising the move. It's meaningless for the EU to say they are suspending the sanctions and then give conditions.
"The US sanctions are more diabolic than the EU sanctions. They have made a law to support their move of making sure that their citizens vote against the IMF and World Bank giving assistance to Zimbabwe," he said.
Prof Moyo said the EU sanctions were illegal and that is why Zimbabwe was suing them in their courts.
"They are preparing to suspend the sanctions pending the referendum and the elections and will reinstate them if they are not happy with the way the referendum and the elections are held."
He said the GPA does not call for a suspension but unconditional lifting of sanctions.
"It defies logic that they want to lift something evil like sanctions . . . evil requires destruction not suspension.
"It's very destabilising to say 'We are holding a big axe over your head if you don't run elections in a way that is acceptable to us, we will drop and chop your head'."