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Zimbabweans Doubt Mugabe Will Relinquish Power

Some Zimbabweans are expressing doubt that embattled President Robert Mugabe will gracefully step down soon. The statement follows Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai claims the unity agreement enables Mugabe to have a "dignified exit".

Mugabe's policies are often blamed for Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis.

Former opposition leader Tsvangirai agreed to join a unity government with Mugabe to resolve the country's economic meltdown.

Political analyst Rejoice Mbowenya told VOA that Zimbabweans are not convinced Mugabe will cede power to his opponents.

"As far as we are concerned, the brand name that counts in ZANU-PF is Mugabe, and there is nothing in the agreement that creates any opportunity or any alternative for Mugabe to retire," Mbowenya said.

He said Tsvangirai is being overly confident about Mugabe's possible exit from power.

"I think the prime minister is living in a very dangerous comfort zone. Mugabe in each and every meeting that he has done after the unity agreement had mentioned the importance of resuscitating ZANU-PF in strengthening its structures," he said.

Mbowenya said Tsvangirai has often questioned Mugabe's pledge about preserving human rights.

"When he (Tsvangirai) is put in a situation where has to comment about the human rights violations and about the abuse of legislation and authority, he always comes out clearly that Mugabe doesn't seem to be committed to living up to the expectations," Mbowenya said.

He said Mugabe wants to preserve his image.

"The facts on the ground are very clear that Mugabe…wants to protect his political reputation. And so far, Zimbabweans are not very convinced that the political side of things is going on Tsvangirai's side," he said.

Mbowenya said there are suspicions of the intent of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party in the unity government.

"The history of the Zimbabwe political agreement only point to one thing, that when ZANU-PF is talking about unity, they are talking about decimating opposition… so ZANU-PF is a one party state institution," Mbowenya said.

Some political observers say donors seem to be channeling funds through United Nations agencies or charities instead of giving directly to the unity government where Mugabe still wields significance influence.

Mbowenya said ZANU-PF partisans have been speculating that they are being sidelined by the donor community.

"The public propaganda machinery is spinning stories around that the international community through the funding agencies is trying to divide the government in trying to isolate ZANU-PF members of parliament and entities in the government," Mbowenya said.

But he said some Zimbabweans welcome the apparent isolation of ZANU-PF members by the international community.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai in the United Kingdom has been wrapping up a three week mission to North America and various European countries, hoping to raise more donor funds to help jumpstart Zimbabwe's ailing economy.