Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday reiterated and reinforced the position on election timing he laid out in a speech earlier this week, telling a group of German business executives visiting Harare that his Movement for Democratic Change won’t participate in elections if President Robert Mugabe calls them this year.
Mr. Tsvangirai said a revised constitution must be put in place among other reforms, projecting that elections might be held in early 2012.
Mr. Tsvangirai reiterated in stronger terms that if President Mugabe follows through on a recent threat to dissolve Parliament and call elections elections this year his formation of the MDC will not be a party to such elections – in effect threatening a boycott.
He said he and Mr. Mugabe as heads of the two main parties in the government must meet and discuss the timing of the next elections.
Bulawayo-based political analyst Effie Dlela Ncube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Brenda Moyo that Mr. Tsvangirai should have a “Plan B” if he intends to boycott presidential and general elections called by Mr. Mugabe without his asssent.
British-based political analyst Musekiwa Makwanya told reporter Patience Rusere that Mr. Tsvangirai should not boycott elections if he wants to remain relevant.
Meanwhile, a recent survey by the Mass Public Opinion Institute found that 58 percent of Zimbabweans surveyed in a recently conducted poll want the government of national unity launched two years ago to continue because it has helped the country.
The survey found support for Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF stronger than in 2009 with 18 percent favoring the former ruling party compared with 10 percent then. Support for Mr. Tsvangirai had weakened to 36 percent, a drop of 21 points since 2009.
Critics said the data showed concern among the respondents about the MDC role in the often-troubled and frequently ineffective national unity government.
Africa Confidential Editor Patrick Smith told reporter Tatenda Gumbo that the national unity government needs another six months in place.
Elsewhere, youths belonging to ZANU-PF and both MDC wings met in Harare Thursday to seek ways to end the political violence that has rocked the capital of late, as correspondent Irwin Chifera reported from the Zimbabwean capital.
The smaller MDC formation headed by Welshman Ncube joined ZANU-PF in condemning the European Union for extending sanctions against President Mugabe and his inner circle, along with a number of firms related to those individuals or the party.
The MDC wing said continued EU sanctions will hinder Zimbabwe’s democratic process, urging all such restrictions be lifted. ZANU-PF earlier said the EU decision maintaining most sanctions was “neo-colonialist” and had nothing to do with human rights.
The MDC formation of Prime Minister Tsvangirai said Mr. Mugabe and his associates knew what they had to do to convince Western nations to lift sanctions.
For a closer look at the EU sanctions decision Sandra Nyaira turned to Vice President Edwin Mushoriwa of Ncube MDC wing and political analyst Charles Mangongera, who said the EU was pursuing a classic carrot-and-stick strategy.