PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has called for Australia to suspend crippling sanctions against Zimbabwe adding the measures could be re-imposed if free and fair elections are not conducted on schedule.
Tsvangirai, who is on a three-day official visit to Canberra, said lifting the sanctions would be a signal of faith in on-going reform efforts.
"There was a time when any restrictive measures (were) an incentive for good behaviour, but I think that we are past that. I think we have gone beyond what they can contribute positively," he said.
"Suspend these measures, but tie them to free and fair elections," he said. "And, if the election is free and fair, fine ... remove them permanently."
Speaking at a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Julia Gillard Tsvangirai said while Zimbabwe had endured a "very dark and unfortunate history", the inclusive government in which he is prime minister was a step towards rectifying past political problems.
"I am hoping that with your assistance, and with the assistance of all the goodwill in the international community, we should be able to rescue the country," he said.
"My visit here has been largely to explain to the political leadership and the business community that Zimbabwe is ready to re-engage, to re-engage with the international community as a member of the international community and not just as a pariah state."
The MDC-T leader formed a coalition government with veteran President Robert Mugabe following violent but inconclusive elections in 2008.
"We had a stalemate. I had the support of the people, they had the guns," he said.
Asked if there were dangers in now lifting bans on military exports to Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said the period of power-sharing had helped calm political tensions.
"I think the transition has removed a lot of barriers of suspicion, of polarisation. I think the country is moving towards accepting ... even the military ... accepting the overall civilian authority as the constitutional position,” he said.
“That way, it doesn't slide the country back again into isolation. Even the military will benefit from a thriving economy."
Tsvangirai said Australia's mining expertise was needed in Zimbabwe and business should again look at investment in his country.
"The country has been isolated for the past 10 years. This is our attempt at re-engagement," he said.
"Africa is going through a very delicate transition from the old Africa of dictators, of nationalisation and poverty. I think it's going through a very optimistic time."
Tsvangirai said Australia’s cricket squad would be welcome in the country.
The Australia A team toured last year, but the senior XI has not been since 2004.