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Analyst says Unity Government Only Alternative for Zimbabwe

A leading Zimbabwe analysis group, the Solidarity Peace Trust, says despite massive political problems, there is no alternative for progress towards democracy outside the country's shaky inclusive government.

Solidarity Peace Trust Director Brian Raftopoulos, told journalists in Johannesburg the Global Political Agreement, which brought the unity government to power, has not lived up to expectations.

He says President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is determined to remain in power at any cost. "Be very clear this is a struggle for the state. Any struggle for the state is intense, it is violent, it is problematic, especially when you are fighting a party whose very future is invested in control of the state," said Raftopoulos.

He said the Movement for Democratic Change, which narrowly won the last elections in 2008, has demonstrated it is the most popular party, but despite that it was stopped by Mr. Mugabe's security forces from taking power. He said the Zimbabwe military loyal to Zanu-PF remained the major obstacle to fulfilling outstanding conditions of the global political agreement.

To unblock political dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC, Raftopoulos said EU and U.S. financial and travel restrictions against Zanu-PF leaders should end. He says the sanctions are used by Mr. Mugabe as an excuse to delay full implementation of the political agreement.

"For me the quicker we get beyond the sanctions question the better," said Raftopoulos. "As a deterrent I do not think the sanctions policy has worked."

"Since 2001 it has not stopped the electoral violence, it has not stopped the attacks against civics and political leaders, it has not stopped continued land occupations and has mobilized SADC and [the] AU around Mugabe again. So the issue is now, 'Mugabe versus the West', it is right where Mugabe wants the debate, it is where he is always most comfortable," he added.

Analyst Raftopoulos says there has been little economic recovery in Zimbabwe because donors and investors see the political agreement remains unfulfilled.

He said the option of withdrawing from the inclusive government would work against the MDC because Zimbabwe's future remains with its regional partners.

"It is also most clear SADC and [the] A.U. continue to invest in this as the most viable option, notwithstanding the great limits that SADC has in putting pressure on the Mugabe regime," said the analyst.

The Solidarity Peace Trust said the flight of so many Zimbabweans to South Africa is the largest refugee problem South Africa has experienced.

It said more Zimbabweans have fled their country in the past 10 years than those who fled Mozambique at the height of its long and bloody civil war.

The group says until South Africa, which mediates the Zimbabwe issue on behalf of the Southern Africa Development Community, ensures the political agreement is fulfilled, more Zimbabweans will flee across the border in search of a better life.